A public health approach to the evaluation of the Glasgow Community Initiative to Reduce Violence
Professor Peter D. Donnelly University of St Andrews
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Interpersonal violence is a leading cause of death worldwide for people aged 15-44 years and is associated with non-fatal injuries and chronic, non-injury health consequences (WHO, 2009). In Scotland, the standardised mortality rate for males rose 83% during 1981 and 2003, of which 47% of the reported 2151 homicides involved the use of a knife or other weapon, representing an increase of 164% (Leyland, 2007). Moreover, homicide rates are significantly higher in Glasgow (14.0 per 100,000) when compared to Scotland as a whole (5.38 per 100,000). Not only does this illustrate the extent of the problem in Scotland, but it also highlights a significant inequality in health. Indeed, youth violence and teen pregnancy are considered two of the first physical manifestations of inequalities and are linked to increased risk of other physical and mental health issues (Williams & Donnelly, 2009).
Various holistic approaches to youth/gang violence have been implemented in the US (Boston Ceasefire initiative and Cincinnati Initiative to Reduce Violence) and resulted in reductions of up to 40% in levels of violence and gun-related crime (see for example Braga e al., 2001; Papachristos, 2006). Strathclyde Police and the Scottish Violence Reduction Unit have drawn on lessons learned from world-recognised best practice developed in the US, and adopted an enlightened public health approach to tackling youth/gang violence in Glasgow, known as the Community Initiative to Reduce Violence (CIRV).
The Glasgow CIRV is a £5 Million initiative to tackle Glasgow's long standing problem with youth violence. CIRV is a multi-agency and community-centred initiative which is unique in bringing together for the first time all relevant agencies in health, education, social work, community safety, housing, and the local community into a committed and on going partnership to help young gang members find a way out of their violent lifestyle. In return for pledging not to carry a weapon or engage in violence the youngsters are offered an array of opportunities related to education, job readiness training, physical activity and, where necessary, help with health and housing (see Donnelly & Tombs, 2009).
In spite of the success of the US initiatives, given the subtle but important differences in gang violence between the US and UK/Europe (see the Eurogang project; Klein et al., 2006) it is necessary to evaluate the initiative to identify if it works as a whole but also what bits work best, so as to most effectively tailor the approach to the needs of Scotland.
Research Summary: A public health approach to the evaluation of the Glasgow Community Initiative to Reduce Violence Laura Burns, Damien Williams & Peter Donnelly, University of St Andrews [Entered, March 2011]