We approach violence in the same way we would a disease – recognising the symptoms, understanding the causes and then stopping its transmission, giving people the tools they need to tackle it.
Our team have adopted the World Health Organisation’s definition of a public health approach to tackling serious violence. The approach uses the principles below which look to:
- define the problem,
- identify those risk and protective factors,
- develop and test prevention strategies and then facilitate widespread adoption.
It advocates a long-term approach, encouraging wider system and cultural change.
Public health principles provide a useful framework for investigating and understanding the causes and consequences of violence. They can help to prevent violence from occurring in the first place through primary prevention programmes, successful projects and advocacy.
Drivers of serious violence
Our work is driven by the belief that violence is preventable.
By understanding the drivers behind crime, we can reduce the risk of offending and therefore reduce the number of victims.
To achieve this, adopting and embedding a multi-agency PHA is essential. Some of the drivers of violence are detailed here and grouped into community and wider society drivers, drivers within close relationships, and individual factors than can contribute to driving violence.
Our approach focuses on our population rather than concentrating on high-risk individuals, with an emphasis is on tackling ‘upstream’ risk factors, to lessen the consequences ‘downstream’.
This approach relies on knowledge and information from a range of disciplines and organisations.
Definition of a Public Health Approach
The `Preventing Serious Violence Strategy: Summary Publication` (21st October 2019) states the reasons why violence is a public health issue as:
`…because living without fear of violence is a fundamental requirement for health and wellbeing`
The health and wellbeing of an individual or a community has the potential to impact upon every interaction or experience a person has during the course of their life be it, education, employment, prospects, or interpersonal relationships – all of which, can be severely affected through ill health and poor wellbeing.
Programmes and work that address this, as early as possible, will not only reduce demands on health services, the criminal justice system, and the wider economy, but will also improve the outcomes in relation to an individual or a community by addressing the root causes of violent crime to prevent it occurring in the first place.