09 January 2020

Building the evidence base: Vulnerability and serious violence

The Vulnerability and Violent Crime Programme (VVCP) was launched by the College and the National Police Chiefs’ Council in 2018 to develop the evidence base around effective policing approaches to reducing vulnerability and serious violence.

Since April 2019 the VVCP team and the College have been working with police forces and independent researchers to evaluate eight of the most promising initiatives identified through the national call for practice. The evaluations will fill gaps in the current evidence base and encourage learning from practice across policing and support evidence based policing (EBP). These evaluations will be completed by March 2020.

The emphasis of the programme has been on sharing learning about innovative approaches focusing on understanding the implementation and impact of initiatives designed to reduce vulnerability and serious violence. 

The evaluations of the eight police initiatives are being undertaken by expert researchers in crime, justice and policing from the University of Birmingham and the National Centre for Social Research (NatCen). They are working with the police forces and organisations involved in delivering the initiatives and have designed multi-method evaluations that include surveys, interviews and focus groups as well as analysis of police and partner data. The research will apply statistical and thematic analysis to draw insights from the data, to help us understand the ways in which the initiatives are effective; how they can be improved and the costs and benefits involved in carrying them out. Findings will be shared with other forces and Police and Crime Commissioners (PCCs) involved in tackling similar issues or who may be considering implementing similar initiatives. 

A number of people working on the initiatives have told us why they think it is important to have their intervention independently evaluated:

Spousal Assault Risk Assessment Version 3 / Stalking Assessment and Management risk management tools
This initiative is a three-force pilot which started in November 2018 looking at the application of police risk assessment and management tools for serial and repeat perpetrators of domestic abuse and stalking. The tools being trialled are the latest version of the risk assessment and management tool used by the National Probation Service for domestic abuse cases and the Stalking Assessment and Management tool (SAM), used for managing stalking cases. 

Doug Naden, Police National Lead for Multi-Agency Public Protection Arrangements (MAPPA), Her Majesty's Prison and Probation Service (HMPPS) said that:

"In piloting these tools within an operational environment it was necessary to understand their efficacy through rigorous, transparent and independent testing of this initiative. The collaboration with the University of Birmingham will ensure the principles of evidence based policing are followed and that we test the impact of this initiative on improving policing's ability to identify offenders, prevent abuse, protect the vulnerable and support offenders with a clear risk management plan to desist from further crime. With this evidence we can challenge current practice, modify and adapt interventions, improve service delivery and innovate from a foundation of tested knowledge."

Operation Divan
Operation Divan aims to reduce the number of young people carrying weapons by raising awareness of the consequences of weapon carrying. Police work with partners to support those aged under 18 identified as being at risk of weapon carrying to prevent future escalation. This project will evaluate the implementation of Operation Divan in North Yorkshire and the Metropolitan Police Service.

Sergeant Neil Northend of North Yorkshire Police helped develop OP Divan and was keen to have it evaluated because the initiative focuses on young people and he wanted to check that they had the right balance of one-to-one support, education and involvement of parents and guardians.  The evaluation will help to identify areas that need improving through direct consultation with young people, their parents/guardians, teaching staff and partner agencies. Sergeant Northend said:

"The evaluation and evidence obtained from this will help not just North Yorkshire Police but other police services and partners agencies by being able to review and adapt feedback in order to better support young people. The overarching aim to keep them and others safe by steering them away from being a victim of crime or being involved in crime – is very much a 'child centred' approach."

Adverse Childhood Experiences / Trusted Adult Workers
There is substantial evidence that those who have experienced adverse childhood experiences are statistically more likely to require support as an adult from a number of public services including police, social care and health. However, there is little evidence of what works to tackle this issue and break the cycle. 

The Hampshire Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner (OPCC) wanted to find out if the recruitment, training and deployment of Trusted Adult Workers (TAWs) could help to create a positive, strong, social network, build resilience and act as a protective barrier. TAWs are funded by the Early Intervention Youth Fund and work within Hampshire, Portsmouth and Southampton. TAWs act as mentors and positive role models for young people, supporting them and their families and helping them to navigate referral pathways to other services. The aim of the initiative is to reduce the risk of future offending, tackle health problems and wider social issues, and ultimately support young people to enjoy a happy, healthy, crime-free life.

Karen Dawes is the Commissioning and Contracts Manager for Hampshire OPCC, she said:

"This opportunity provided by the College of Policing for an evaluation will help us understand if the 'Trusted Adult Worker Role' helps families cope with trauma, build resilience and potentially enjoy happier, healthier lives. If proved effective, we can collaborate across public services and commission this type of service in future, which will benefit not only those families affected, and society as a whole, but will also reduce demand across our public services." 

Over 130 initiatives were submitted for evaluation as part of the VVCP, which illustrates how criminal justice organisations recognise the need to test and potentially modify emerging practices to achieve their objectives. By adopting a proactive approach to evaluating the initiatives, new evidence can serve to increase confidence on whether the practice is of value and whether wider rollout both locally and nationally is merited. 

To update this national picture of practices across policing, we are asking police forces and OPCCs to share more examples of interventions or approaches that they are using to tackle vulnerability and / or serious violence, by completing a call for practice form by February 21st 2020. This will allow us to share these practices across policing. Please refer to our VVCP web page for details on how to do this and the types of interventions or practices we are interested in.


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