Groups – Williams et al. (2014)

Study Reference:

Williams, D. J., Currie, D., Linden, W., & Donnelly, P. D. (2014). Addressing gang-related violence in Glasgow: A preliminary pragmatic quasi-experimental evaluation of the Community Initiative to Reduce Violence (CIRV). Aggression and Violent Behavior19(6), 686-691.

Location in the Matrix; Methodological Rigor; Outcome:

Groups; Focused; Highly Proactive; Moderately Rigorous; Mixed effects

What police practice or strategy was examined?

This study evaluated the Community Initiative to Reduce Violence (CIRV), a holistic, focused deterrence approach to youth gang violence implemented initially in Cincinnati, Ohio. In this study, the CIRV model was tailored to fit the context of Glasgow, Scotland, and ran from October 24, 2008, to April 1, 2011. The intervention was focused on curbing physical violence and weapon possession in the East End of Glasgow. Youths identified as gang members were invited to attend a self-referral session at the Glasgow Sheriff Court. No incentive was offered, and those who participated in the sessions were compelled to pledge that they would abstain from violence and refrain from carrying a weapon. Based on a “needs analysis,” participants were offered access to support services and opportunities such as job-readiness training, diversionary activities, and personal development. In the event of a violation of the pledge by a gang member, access to services was temporarily withheld for the entire group, which was intended to encourage self-enforcement.

How was the intervention evaluated?

The impact of the intervention was evaluated using a before-and-after quasi-experimental design with a comparison group. The evaluation relied on criminal record data provided by the Strathclyde Police on both violent (assault, weapon possession, etc.) and non-violent (drugs, theft, disorder, etc.). All male participants of any age who completed one or two years post-engagement were included in the intervention group. A comparison group was selected from a neighboring non-intervention area in the south of Glasgow with a similar socio-economic profile. A simple random sample was drawn from the known gang members in this area, and each member was then individually matched by age to a member of the intervention group (N = 334 individuals). The authors used police data from October 28, 2006, through October 31, 2011, to follow the intervention and control cohorts for 1 and 2-year follow-up periods.

What were the key findings?

The authors found a significant reduction in overall violent offending and weapon carrying for treatment individuals relative to control individuals during the two-year follow-up period. However, there were no significant differences in these outcomes during the one-year follow-up period and no significant differences across either follow-up period for non-violent offenses and physical violence. The authors explain that the reductions in weapon possession mainly dealt with the carrying of knives. Although the intervention took place during a time when violent crime was decreasing throughout Scotland, they show that the individuals who engaged in CIRV saw a greater reduction in weapon carrying and violent offending than those in the comparison group, which implies that CIRV has an additional impact even within the context of a general decline.

What were the implications for law enforcement?

While their findings are encouraging, the authors emphasize the importance of appreciating the balance of enforcement and rehabilitation at the heart of CIRV. They also note that the model was customized and tailored using the nature of the problem and the resources already available (or made available through specific funding). Therefore, rather than unquestioningly adopting a replica of the CIRV intervention in other places, the authors highlight the need for thoughtful interpretation, development, and customization of the program for each particular version of CIRV that may be adapted moving forward.

Where can I find more information about this intervention, similar types of intervention, or related studies?