New insights into serious youth violence in London

Research Institution / Organisation

The Mayor's Office for Policing and Crime (MOPAC)

In Collaboration With

London’s Violence Reduction Unit (VRU) and Metropolitan Police Service (MPS)

Principal Researcher

Ashley Herron

Level of Research

Professional / Work-based

Project Start Date

September 2021

Research Context

In response to a request by London’s Deputy Mayor for Policing and Crime, Sophie Linden, to improve both the understanding of gang and group violence in London and the police response to it, MOPAC’s Evidence & Insight (E&I) unit, supported by the Violence Reduction Unit (VRU) and the MPS, have been commissioned to carry out research as part of an agreed uplift and continuation of funding to tackle the complex causes of violent crime.

The research work being undertaken has two distinct, yet complimentary, strands:

  • A strategic problem profile, utilising MPS data sources (and beyond) to identify violent, victimised and exploited cohorts in order to explore drivers, risk and protective factors in youth violence.

  • ‘Deep dive’ research into police recorded cases. Replicating a well-established case coding methodology used in prior projects such as the MOPAC London Rape Review, this research aims to provide a holistic interpretation of what is driving violence in a local context and understand the motivations behind non-fatal violence from a variety of perspectives.

Research Methodology

Problem Profile - design

  • To present an overview of the landscape of serious violence involving children & young people in London based on police recorded crime data, supplemented by information from relevant MPS datasets. 

  • To explore the gaps and overlaps between the various MPS mechanisms/tools for assessing harm, risk and vulnerability relating to serious violence in London. 

  • To explore differences and similarities in criminal journey trajectories (and if possible, vulnerability/needs) between cohorts / groups.

‘Deep dive’ research

This research will use a quantitative case coding approach, modelled on that successfully employed over the two iterations of the MOPAC London Rape Review. This would primarily focus upon data on violent crime cases held within the Metropolitan Police Service’s (MPS) Crime Recording and Information System (CRIS). A representative random sample of approximately 400 cases classified as Violence with Injury will be taken from across a 2-year period. The sampling strategy will account for the varying offence types that come under the umbrella term ‘serious youth violence’.

All cases will feature incidents classified as violence with injury (non-domestic), between January 2019 and February 2021 where at least one victim or suspect is under 25 years old and over 10 years old (age of criminal responsibility).

As per the recent MOPAC Rape Review, the process will be guided by a rigorous coding protocol that will ensure consistency among coders and strengthen the validity of the results, similar to other coding studies on crime related topics. Each case will be coded across broad thematic areas (i.e. covering victim offence, suspect, procedural characteristics & outcomes).
All information collected from CRIS will be appropriately sanitised for the release of the report to the general public and partners, withholding case specific information that could be linked to individuals or instances covered in the reports used for the coding phase of this project.

Specific areas to code may be refined further with input from key stakeholders (i.e., drawing from MPS expertise). Descriptive and inferential statistical analysis will be undertaken on the dataset. Whilst research questions and coding variables will be developed in consultation with key stakeholders (the MPS & VRU), areas of interest will include:

  • Motivations and drivers to violence (both proximal and distal).

  • Situational dynamics of violent events, including weapon use, location, modus operandi, group dynamics and the involvement of witnesses or bystanders

  • Elements of the investigatory process; unwilling victims and witnesses, difficulties identifying suspects or understanding motivation.

Date due for completion

February 2022
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