A Public Health Approach to Violence Reduction

Knife violence is endemic in London, and is concentrating in areas of socioeconomic deprivation.  Criminal acts are an issue of law and order, but the reasons why children and young people carry knives and resort to violence is a societal and public health issue.  A public health approach to preventing knife violence is a multilevel framework that addresses the root causes of violence as well as those already involved or at risk.

The London Major Trauma System has produced a briefing document which outlines our model of a public health approach to knife violence prevention. The aim of the document is to promote understanding of what is meant by a public health approach.  The overarching principle is to "IMMUNIZE the general population; PROTECT those exposed, RESCUE those at risk".
The approach is summarised in the diagram below, and the full document can be accessed here.

Youth Violence Intervention Programmes in London Major Trauma Centres

Admissions to London's major trauma centres due to personal violence related injuries are the highest in the UK.  A number of innovative prevention initiatives have been established in London's MTCs to try and reverse this trend.



Every year thousands of young people come through London’s hospital doors as victims of assault and exploitation. In partnership with London’s four Major Trauma Centres (MTCs), Redthread runs the innovative Youth Violence Intervention Programme (YVIP) which aims to reduce serious youth violence across the capital, and has revolutionised the support available to young victims of violence.

Teams of specialist youth workers are embedded in the Trauma Ward at the Royal London Hospital, and the A&E departments at King’s College, St Mary’s and St George’s hospitals. There, alongside clinical staff, the youth workers engage young people in the ‘Teachable Moment’, when they are out of their comfort zone, alienated from their peers, and often coming to terms with the effects of injury.

Redthread has ten years experience running this intervention, and this experience has demonstrated that the ‘teachable moment’ is a time of change. At this time many young people, with youth worker support, are able to make positive and healthy plans they haven’t felt able to before. The programme’s work focuses on this moment in order to disrupt the cruel cycle of violence that can too easily lead to re-attendance, re-injury, and devastated communities.

For more information, visit Redthread’s website. www.redthread.org.uk

St Giles Trust

St Giles Trust is a Charity dedicated to breaking the cycle of reoffending. One of it's program's SOS is now London's largest gangs intervention project, offering intensive support to young offenders to help them break free from gangs and weapons crime. It offers a tailored package of support for each young person to help them identify and realise alternative aspirations and goals. It also works with young people at risk of getting involved in the criminal justice system. 

SOS works in partnership with statutory agencies across London such as local authorities and has caseworkers embedded in the major trauma unit of Royal London Hospital in a partnership project with Redthread.

The project was founded and developed in 2006 by Junior Smart and borne out of his own direct experiences of involvement in gangs and a 12 year prison sentence. The majority of caseworkers on SOS are trained, reformed ex-offenders with first-hand experience of the issues their clients are facing. 

More information about how SOS operates can be found on the St Giles Trust website


Growing Against Violence (GAV)

GAV is a public health and public safety programme, delivering evidence based preventative education sessions. It provides a continuum of engagement, with age appropriate sessions delivered universally to students in school years 6 through to 10  (age range approx. 10 – 15).

GAV works for public benefit to reduce the impact of gangs, peer on peer abuse and both gang and group behaviour on the lives of young people and, by extension, their families and communities. It is based upon on principles of ‘protection’, ‘prevention’ and ‘partnership’. It seeks to protect young people at risk of association with gangs, crime, violence and exploitation; prevent their entry into gangs, gang life and abusive relationships by allowing them to make informed decisions; and works through partnerships of trust and confidence with schools and young people themselves to address these issues.

More information about GAV can be found on their website.


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