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Thoughts and ambitions on a London Violence Reduction Academy.

The Violence Reduction Academy is a new branch of the NHS Violence Reduction Programme. Our goal is to gather evidence on what works – in the health service or beyond – and share good practice through a central repository of evidence.

The Violence Reduction Academy Team has years of experience working on violence reduction within the health service and have strong connections with both statutory and third sector services working on violence reduction in the UK and internationally.

A core goal is to create and promote the evidence base for a violence reduction service within the NHS. While it’s important to understand what interventions work to reduce youth violence, we also want to understand how we can support people experiencing different kinds of harm, like domestic abuse, human trafficking, gender-based violence, or drug, alcohol and night-time economy related harms.

As a component of the NHS with an interest in preventative (or public) health, it is important to understand social determinants when it comes to a poor health outcome such as violence; how experiences of violence can influence long-term population health outcomes.

Our aim is to contribute towards a health service that has the capacity to effectively respond to the needs of a struggling family, of a young person who is disengaging from their education and peer group, or someone who is unable to deal with internalised grief and anger in response to challenging life events.

In 2006 the first London hospital-based violence reduction programme was set up at King’s College Hospital in partnership with the charity RedThread. A similar programme was established at St Mary’s Hospital, and in 2015 the London Mayor’s office announced an uplift in funding to provide similar services at other major trauma centres. Fast-forward seven years and half of the hospitals in London now provide a violence reduction programme. Nationally there are now over 40 hospital-based violence reduction programmes in operation.

Novel interventions and programmes have branched off and grown from the original seeds. There are pilot programmes in East London looking at provision of social prescribing models for young people and families at risk of community-based violence; for example, a multi-million-pound fund dedicated to training community mental health advocates to better support young people who have experienced violence. And Health Education England have published training modules to improve clinical staff awareness of trauma informed care and different types of violence that occur.

Each of the workstreams will benefit from an understanding of their relevant successes and challenges. Like any other treatments or service within the NHS we believe that violence reduction should be an evidence-based practice. By building a robust evidence base, available and easy to access and understand, we can more effectively set up new programmes, ensure that existing programmes are working according to latest evidence through audits or review, and understand whether our interventions are making a difference to our population’s health; and make changes as required.

If we can prove cost-effectiveness and demonstrate improvements to population health as a result of our interventions, we can ensure that violence reduction within the NHS becomes a sustainable practice.

We hope to establish a framework of good evidence, work with academic partners to publish easily accessible reports and articles highlighting best-practice and use our findings to inform new learning and potential areas of career development for individuals working within and outside of the NHS.

Expect to see early output from the Violence Reduction Academy soon, including a new website.

Michael Carver is the Clinical Lead for the Violence Reduction Academy. He was formally the Clinical Lead for the Hospital-Based Violence Reduction Programme at NHS England and was Lead Nurse for Violence Reduction at Barts Health. He has over ten years of experience working in emergency care and is currently studying for a doctorate looking at violence reduction and trauma at The Centre for Trauma Sciences, Queen Mary University.

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