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Beyond the Brexit Bubble - Blog Series: Youth Violence and Knife Crime Blog #1

Wednesday 6 November 2019 Demographic Data

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Cory Vivian's picture
By Cory Vivian

 

Beyond the Brexit Bubble – Blog #1

Brexit’s domination of national headlines, central government focus and resources has become even more extreme in recent months. But for local authorities, everyday societal and social challenges are as pressing as ever.

Our local authority blog series looks beyond the Brexit agenda to spotlight the critical public sector issues that urgently need attention, innovation and solutions, whatever the political agenda. Working with dedicated local authority organisations every day, we’re intent on supporting them to maintain their vital focus on vulnerable individuals and communities around the UK.

Local and national insight are both vital in applying proven prevention tactics

The message [is] loud and clear: catch young people before they go down the wrong path, and encourage them to make positive choices

"Breaking the Cycle of Youth Violence" - Local Government Association (LGA) Report - January 2019

Every instance of knife crime and violence brings with it a slew of consequences beyond the immediate threat to life. The police and local authorities must stabilise and manage the situation and get to grips with the underlying issues. Injury, fear, criminalisation, community tensions and the factors that contributed to causing the incident all present complex and critical challenges.

The Local Government Association (LGA) Breaking the Cycle of Youth Violence report makes the context clear: just 1% of all recorded crime is homicide, knife or gun crime (Home Office). But these crimes have particularly widespread and deep impacts, and they are on the rise. The statistics relating to young people and violent crime are concerning, with a 51% rise in the number of under 18s suffering assaults with sharp objects in the last four years (NHS). In the same period, recorded knife crime has gone up by 57% (ONS), while the Millennium Cohort Study reports that 3% of 14-year-olds have carried a weapon.

 

Prevention works – the challenge is predicting where it will be most needed

Preventing and reversing these trends is a massive priority for local authorities and police forces. The LGA report does bring positive messages: its case studies show that there are proven and effective measures and initiatives that can help tackle the causes of knife crime and violence among young people. It recommends ten key steps for local authorities and police forces, based on successful practice around the UK. But there aren’t enough resources to apply them everywhere in the local authority area. This is where data and intelligence can help, relieving pressure by helping them to prioritise and target efforts accurately with the resources available.

Local authorities and police forces around the country are dedicated to supporting communities and individuals to break cycles of violence and patterns of anti-social behaviour in young people. But resources are finite. The key challenge for organisational leaders is how to prioritise and target their work for the maximum social impact. Field teams know their local areas and the people who live there: they’re skilled at identifying historic trouble spots, issues and groups. But it’s much harder to predict the future potential perpetrators and victims and to take action before their lives are changed by youth violence and knife crime. How can organisations prioritise and target accurately?

 

Experienced police forces and local authorities know their communities

 

There are no easy answers, but data analytics are already helping forces and authorities to augment their expert knowledge and experience. Local police and authorities recognise and exploit the value of case records and profiling within their own organisation, to identify common characteristics, behaviours and environmental factors that increase the propensity to be involved in crime, either as a victim or a perpetrator.

The problem is that they only hold detailed information about people who have already been victims or perpetrators of crime. With no data about other citizens in their catchments, and no ability to benchmark against other regions or communities, it’s difficult to match known target profiles with individuals or groups currently outside the record-keeping system. That makes prediction and prevention more difficult.

 

Third party data and specialist analytics can fill in knowledge gaps

With specialised analytical, mapping and prediction tools, coupled with relevant external data sets, organisations can build their insight further, filling the gaps and finding out what’s missing in their current knowledge. CACI’s geodemographic segmentation tools, ‘Acorn’ and ‘Household Acorn’, have attracted the attention of local authorities and emergency services who want to use data to improve their resource allocation and target youth crime prevention campaigns more effectively.

These tools use a variety of data sources to provide demographic, lifestyle and behavioural characteristics about the UK population. Insights from this can help identify areas where there may be at-risk and vulnerable groups, who could be either at risk of violent crime or who are at risk of offending.

 

Insight and intelligence help prioritise the most effective proactive campaigns

This allows police and local authorities to use data as an evidence base when making key decisions for intervention campaigns and front line operations. For example, which schools to prioritise with awareness campaigns, the best locations for knife amnesty bins and where to proactively allocate police patrols and resources.

A specialist data partner with police and local authority sector experience can help define how best to use new insights for recommending where the most benefit could lie in analysis to address the current local issues of youth violence and knife crime. That includes designing meaningful, actionable insight to match the specific community needs and defining target areas for community outreach.

 

For More Information

This is the first in our series of blogs looking beyond the Brexit agenda to spotlight the critical public sector issues that urgently need attention. To read the second blog written in the series click here.

If you’d like to augment your local knowledge to fill in gaps, support your field teams and target proactive and prevention campaigns more accurately, please get in touch with CACI’s local authority and police data specialists.

Our local authority blog series looks beyond the Brexit agenda to spotlight the critical public sector issues that urgently need attention, innovation and solutions, whatever the political agenda. Working with dedicated local authority organisations every day, we’re intent on supporting them to maintain their vital focus on vulnerable individuals and communities around the UK.

Beyond the Brexit Bubble - Blog Series: Youth Violence and Knife Crime Blog #1