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Diversion from serious violence: Evaluations of DIVERT and CIRV

Community policing
Published: July 2021

We were commissioned by the College of Policing to evaluate DIVERT and the Community Initiative to Reduce Violence (CIRV), two interventions aiming to divert young people and young adults away from serious violence.

Evaluation of DIVERT

DIVERT targets young adults (aged 18-25) detained in six police custody suites across the Metropolitan Police Service. Using police custody as a ‘teachable moment’, DIVERT employs Custody Intervention Coaches (CICs) to redirect young adults into education, training and employment (ETE) or wider support in the local community.

The evaluation aimed to identify whether DIVERT was an effective intervention in terms of reducing reoffending and/or returns to police custody for young adults aged 18-25.

Methodology

The evaluation of DIVERT involved:

  • Impact evaluation: Propensity Score Matching was used to measure the causal impact of DIVERT on re-arrest six and 12 months after the young adult’s first meeting with a CIC.
  • A process evaluation to understand barriers and facilitators to DIVERT’s set-up and delivery. We interviewed 35 people, including the DIVERT programme delivery team, associated partners and young adults across custody suite locations.
  • Cost analysis, estimating the total and ‘per participant’ cost of DIVERT.

Key findings

  • In the very short term (up to six months), DIVERT participants were found to be arrested at higher rates than those who had not participated in a meeting with the CIC. In the longer term, re-arrest rates were no different between groups, with the exception of the suite where the intervention had been running for the longest (Brixton), where the evaluation found a positive impact on re-arrest after 12 months.
  • The initial meetings between CICs and young adults in police custody were felt to be important in helping young adults recognise the need for change in their lifestyle or behaviour.
  • The commitment and persistence of the CIC in the young adult’s life was felt to help build their confidence, self-esteem and psychosocial wellbeing. This was felt to increase their motivation to engage with employment opportunities.
  • Allowing time to build sustainable networks of partners and referral agencies was felt to be critical to programme implementation.

Evaluation of CIRV

CIRV is delivered by Northamptonshire Police, and takes a multi-agency approach to early intervention for young people and adults, to encourage desistence from gang violence and associated crime. Those who choose to engage receive support from a CIRV Navigator and from other agencies tailored to their circumstances and needs. For individuals who choose not to engage, CIRV can use disruption and enforcement activities to stop their offending behaviour.

The evaluation aimed to identify whether CIRV was effective in encouraging young people and adults to desist from involvement in gang violence and associated crime.

Methodology

The evaluation of CIRV involved:

  • Impact evaluation, drawing on three data sources:

1. Northamptonshire Police’s Serious Crime Matrix (SCM), used to profile people suspected to be involved in or at risk of gang violence or associated crime
2. Monitoring information used by the CIRV team about young people and adults referred to the programme
3. A bespoke survey completed by a sample of programme participants to collect additional information.

  • Process evaluation, to explore CIRV implementation, delivery and perceived outcomes. We interviewed 30 people including staff/officers involved in delivering CIRV, partner agencies, programme participants and parents, as well as conducting observations of aspects of CIRV delivery.
  • Cost analysis, estimating the total and ‘per participant’ cost of CIRV.

Key findings

  • Indicative findings from the quantitative data suggest programme participants who engaged with CIRV made positive progress towards resolving the issues they faced. However, numbers are small and there was no comparison group, so it is not possible to exclude the possible impact of other factors.
  • Adopting a proactive, problem-solving and holistic approach to address the underlying causes of programme participants’ behaviour was considered key to CIRV delivery. Staff were empowered to address problems in the way they felt was most appropriate.
  • The disruption pathway was felt to act as a deterrent for individuals who would not engage with CIRV. The prospect of regular police presence was felt to help people reassess whether they wanted to engage.
  • However, a key challenge for CIRV is its sustainability. The tailored ‘person-centric’ approach makes resource planning challenging as the level of support required for each participant depends on their individual circumstances and needs.

Read the report