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Drivers of Serious Violence: Phase 2

Project publications


Crest's programme of work examining the underlying causes and drivers of serious violence was split into two phases. This page outlines the focus of phase 2 of the research which explores the importance of social media and digital technologies as a driver of violence and to equip policymakers with a suite of evidence-based and practical recommendations for tackling the problem. 


During the course of our research into serious violence we identified several ways in which technology and social media appears to be facilitating and magnifying serious violence and exploitation. However, both practitioners and policymakers have told us repeatedly that this remains an under-researched and poorly understood phenomenon. 

Practitioners and policymakers have told us that the role of technology in facilitating serious violence is a significant ‘blind spot’, which has become more urgent since the onset of Covid-19 with anecdotal evidence that gangs are increasingly reliant on use of encrypted social media platforms to groom, exploit and coerce young people into criminality.

As the process of grooming, exploitation and coercive control migrate from the real world into a virtual world, they are far less visible to the professionals charged with safeguarding the welfare of the vulnerable; teachers, social workers, youth workers, health professionals and police officers. This poses huge challenges to understanding levels of risk experienced by individuals and developing plans to prevent, detect, and disrupt violence. 

What did we look at?

Throughout this course of research, we: 

  • investigate the role played by technology and social media in facilitating and magnifying serious violence and exploitation 

  • Identify the levers available to government to tackle the problem (drawing on learning from abroad)

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