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Our focus

We embrace the World Health Organisation's (WHO) broad definition of violence:

'... the intentional use of physical force or power, threatened or actual, against another person or against a group that results in or has a high likelihood of resulting in injury, death, psychological harm, maldevelopment, or deprevation.' (2002)

The principal focus of the VRN is on serious violence in public places as outlined in the Government's Serious Violence Strategy 2018. Local analysis confirms that young people (under 25s) are most likely to be affected so we have a priority focus on this age group.

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We also recognise the links between different types of violence, their common causes and the importance of deploying strategies which simultaneously address multiple forms of violence.

Our approach


We recognise that a Criminal Justice response alone is insufficient to prevent violence in the long-term. Instead, we seek to mobilise the whole system in understanding the causes of violence and implementing the strategies most likely to have both a short-term and long-term impact.

To achieve this, we continuously follow and invest in the four-step process below:

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In understanding and tackling violence, we focus on reducing risk factors and strengthening protective factors across individual, relationship, community and societal levels.

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Our core principles


The principles that underpin all our work are also informed by a public health approach. We aim to adhere to these in everything we do and seek to influence our partners to do the same.

  1. Empower everyone, including young people and communities, to play a role in preventing violence. We will seek to widen involvement, particularly amongst those most affected by violence, so that solutions are more relevant , responsive and effective. We will also promote leadership amongst young people, communities and at all levels of organisations to build capacity and the reach of our work. 

  2. Secure maximum impact through maintaining a population focus. When allocating resources and targeting prevention activity we will ensure this reaches the populations most at risk and impacts positively on reducing inequalities.

  3. Ensure our work is evidence-informed. We will use data and gather knowledge from a range of sources to improve our understanding of the nature and causes of violence locally and to shape our responses. We will seek to share this knowledge across and beyond the Network to promote a shared understanding and improve effectiveness.

  4. Adopt a life-course approach. We recognise that prevention holds the greatest potential if we invest in healthy child and adolescence development, actively support transitions and promote resilience in individuals, families and communities. We will seek to prevent violence at the earliest opportunity and within each developmental stage in life with a particular emphasis on early year’s development and relational, contextual and trauma-informed approaches.

  5. Promote and support whole-system thinking and action. We will continuously seek to lead and collaborate across the whole system, promoting joint working and problem-solving between agencies and within communities where challenges or barriers arise.

  6. Add value and create sustainable solutions. We will seek to strengthen existing structures and services wherever possible including investing in capacity and asset-building. We will invest additional resource only where there are identified gaps and with a view to making the case for mainstream investment.

  7. Aim to continuously learn and improve. We will assess the effectiveness and impact of our work including seeking stakeholder feedback, evaluating interventions and sharing learning across the local and national violence reduction and prevention network.

Our framework


Through our early work, we developed a framework to capture and support our ongoing work to prevent violence. It highlights the importance of a whole system approach built on the firm foundations of community consensus, collaboration and co-production, cooperation in sharing data, and providing a counter-narrative to young people and communities most affected. Our framework also includes the four levels of prevention:

  • Contextual Prevention: the aim is to prevent violence by creating the necessary conditions including environmental, legislative, economic and social-cultural change. Contextual prevention can have the most far-reaching impact.

  • Primary Prevention: the aim is to prevent violence from occurring in the first place through addressing root causes and strengthening protective factors at the earliest stage of the life-course as possible.

  • Secondary Prevention: the aim is to prevent the progression of violence through early identification and the provision of timely, tailored and effective support and/or intervention

  • Tertiary Prevention: the aim is to reduce impact and prevent recurrence through criminal justice responses and providing effective support and/or interventions for victims and perpetrators

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