Scotland’s young people demonstrate success in violence reduction

3 Mar 2023

By Susan McVie

Over the last twenty years, Scotland’s success in reducing violence has been attributed to many factors, but one thing is abundantly clear: it’s children and young people who have paved the way for change.

Trying to measure behavioural change amongst young people is not easy, as large-scale surveys typically focus on adults, and police recorded statistics rarely tell us about the behaviour of individual people. However, two large Scottish cohort studies conducted twenty years apart show a remarkable drop in offending behaviour – including violence - amongst those in early adolescence.

Edinburgh Study

The Edinburgh Study of Youth Transitions …

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The portability of crime policies

5 Aug 2022

By Tim Newburn

Where do crime policies come from? Emerging from years of careful research and evaluation? Conjured up by focus groups, or just on the back of a fag packet? Interestingly, despite the importance of the question, the study of policy formation, tracing the complex history of the emergence of political ideas and practices, has never been a terribly common academic activity. Studying outcomes has been far more frequent than studying origins.

That said there are some wonderful studies which have offered considerable insight and have furnished us with a range of useful concepts and metaphors for making sense …

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Violence prevention in Scotland – on paper, in policy, in practice

17 Jun 2022

By Fern Gillon

What is prevention?

“Violence is preventable, not inevitable”

The statement above is the well-known tagline of the Scottish Violence Reduction Unit (SVRU). And it’s true. The public health model, adopted by the SVRU, clearly and unequivocally situates violence within a wider ecological model of individual, community, and societal risk factors. The logic follows that addressing these primary issues will lead to better outcomes, and should lead to a reduction in violent incidents. As such, their work has to-date included engaging with those who may be more susceptible to these factors, being present and active in the communities …

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The Economic Case for Violence Prevention

18 Mar 2022

broken stairwell

By Keir Irwin-Rogers, with thanks to Professor Abhinay Muthoo

In the UK, serious violence between young people is a subject that continues to capture the attention of many people and groups, including academics, politicians, and the media. Much of this attention quite rightly focuses on the causes of this violence, as well as its immense human and social costs (see e.g. Bakkali, 2019; Grierson, 2019). Often neglected, however, are its economic costs.

Before beginning work on the now ongoing ESRC-funded PHYVR project (, I spent several years supporting the work of the cross-party parliamentary Youth Violence Commission (Irwin-Rogers …

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A tale of two cities: Violence reduction in Glasgow and London

14 Oct 2021

By Luke Billingham

Among those working to reduce violence in England and Wales, the Scottish Violence Reduction Unit (SVRU) has been hailed as an inspiration and a guide (see Home Office 2020: 7-8).

While the SVRU focused much of its activity on Glasgow – once described as the “murder capital of Europe” – consternation about violent crime south of the border is focused with particular intensity on London.

The similarities and differences between these two cities have thus become a matter of no small significance for those interested in the nature, causes and reduction of violence. With its own Violence …

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No mean city no more?

7 Jul 2021

Bollards casting shadows

By Alistair Fraser

For as long as I can remember Glasgow was the violent city. The city of hardmen, the city of stares. From ‘No Mean City’ headlines to ‘violent city’ taglines, it was the go-to for gritty film backdrops and grizzled TV characters – a caricature so set in stone that it might as well have been a statue. An English friend once told me 'We lock our doors in Glasgow.' Driving through Glasgow after a family holiday in the north of Scotland her father insisted they locked their car doors, fearing a lumbering mass pawing at the sanctity …

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