Focused Deterrence

First launched in February 2023, this Milton Keynes partnership project targets those under 25 who habitually carry a knife, or who have carried a knife and also committed violent or sexual offences.

It is informed by the focused deterrence model described by the Youth Endowment Fund Toolkit. First implemented in the US in the mid-1990s, the model works with that small group of people engaged in violence but whose behaviour is often driven by exploitation, victimisation and the need for self-protection. Core to the approach is an intensive tailored support offer, coupled with deterrence, usually led by the police and with clear communication of consequences of re-offending, with swift enforcement.

Here in the Thames Valley, in February 2023 we funded the establishment of a team within Milton Keynes Council’s Contextual Safeguarding Team, who then work closely with Thames Valley Police and wider partners.

It is working with a cohort of 55 young people, at present split with 30 aged 11 – 17 and 25 aged 18 – 24.  They have been identified as having habitually carried a knife, or who have carried a knife and also committed violent or sexual offences.

Each individual enters the programme for 12 months, receiving a dedicated coordinator throughout who develops the support programme they are offered, tailored to their needs, and will then support their continued engagement.

Multi-agency meetings are held between the coordinators, police, youth justice services, education and other partners to promote a joined-up response to the individual.

The criminal justice process runs alongside, with Thames Valley Police communicating with the young people – and with all partners – throughout the procedural processes. Every individual is also closely monitored for any new offending, with rapid enforcement and a partnership response.

A randomised control trial evaluation is being run as part of the intervention in order to monitor the impact of the scheme.