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Drivers of Serious Violence: Phase 1

Project publications


During the first phase of our research examining the drivers of serious violence, our objective was to increase understanding of a complex phenomenon, equipping policy-makers, Police and Crime Commissioners and chief constables with a suite of practical policy recommendations for combating serious violence. 


Crest’s research on police demand (also funded by the Dawes Trust) revealed that a rise in violence and sexual offences has been the biggest contributor to the pressures policing is currently under. However, there was no consensus on what is causing this rise. Instead, the public debate is focused on individual solutions such as stop and search or increased police officer numbers with little evidence of what the root causes of this problem are.

In order to develop effective interventions and strategies policymakers were equipped with accurate information about what is happening and why, and avoid focusing on often ideological solutions. 


What did we look at?
We segmented the problem into distinct subject areas to explore them in greater depth. Our first report set out the overall context for serious violence, detailing the trends and drivers which required more in depth analysis. 

The four drivers are:

1. Shifts in drug markets: e.g. increased production/purity of cocaine

2. Increased vulnerability: e.g. increased numbers of ‘at risk’ children drawn into violence, including through Pupil Referral Units (PRUs)

3. Decline in effective enforcement: e.g. weakened police intelligence and reduction in prosecution/charge rate

4. Greater opportunity: e.g. rising social media use


How did we work?
Our team of researchers, analysts and policy experts carried out a mix of field and desk-based research, to bring together the evidence on the context and drivers of serious violence. In order to dig into the issues further, we worked in partnership with a number of police forces and PCCs to develop a stronger understanding of local drivers in local areas and opportunities for change. 

Our quantitative and qualitative research involved analysing published and locally-held data, such as police, health and local authority data, in order to understand the nature and pattern of serious violence in the UK and engaging with a wide range of stakeholders to conduct focus groups and test hypotheses and conclusions with experts. 

We engaged with representatives from agencies related to criminal justice, social justice, health, education and wider public services, as well as academia, the third sector, members of affected communities and harder to reach groups to ensure individuals from all walks of life and interests are consulted in this research.

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