Psychologists from Sheffield Hallam University are to lead an evaluation project which aims to assess the effectiveness of activities and interventions undertaken by South Yorkshire’s Violence Reduction Unit.

Established in August 2019, following a successful multi-agency bid for a £1.6m funding grant from the Home Office, the South Yorkshire Violence Reduction Unit works in partnership with a range of public, community, faith and voluntary organisations to develop and deliver a range of activities to reduce violence in the region.

The project, led by psychologists Dr Charlotte Coleman and Dr Kate Whitfield from the Forensic and Investigative Research group at Sheffield Hallam,will allow the Unit to understand the impact of their work and provide new knowledge that will inform policy and practice locally and nationally.

Dr Charlotte Coleman, said: “Our team are delighted to be working with the South Yorkshire’s Violence Reduction Unit on such an important piece of work that will help shape the future of violent crime interventions in South Yorkshire.

“This funding recognises the expertise of our forensic psychology team in working in the area of violence reduction and evaluation methodologies. I have no doubt that this new working relationship will open up future partnership opportunities to work alongside the South Yorkshire Violence Reduction Unit and other crime organisations.”

Rachel Staniforth, Head of the South Yorkshire Violence Reduction Unit, said: “The Violence Reduction Unit is now in its second year of funding from the Home Office.  In the first year we were required to produce an area profile and response strategy that look at the causes of violence in South Yorkshire.  This document will be published very soon.

“Part of taking a public health approach is using and adding to data and the evidence base.  We want to ensure that the work we are undertaking is having an impact. The evaluation that Sheffield Hallam University are undertaking will provide valuable insights into what is working well and what could be improved.  These findings will add to the effectiveness of our work, ensuring that we deliver interventions and initiatives that improve the lives of young people and communities in South Yorkshire.”

A public health approach starts with the needs of the public or population group rather than with individual people.As violence is increasingly being considered a public health issue, a key component of the evaluation is to work with stakeholders and communities to assess the contribution and engagement of the Violence Reduction Unit.

The evaluation will update the current Theory of Change, a description of how and why a change is expected in a particular context which guides organisational planning, participation and evaluation and support the development of an evaluation framework for the unit to use in current and future commissioned work.

The updated Theory of Change will support the Violence Reduction Unit in prioritising activity and understanding the impact of their work in reducing violent crime, whilst the evaluation framework will support them in using and developing evidence to ensure the continuation of effective working in the long term.