A survey of interagency interventions aimed at preventing a criminal lifestyle among the young

The systematic survey describes interventions aimed at preventing young people from adopting a criminal lifestyle, or supporting those who wish to extricate themselves from criminal networks and employing an interagency approach. It also describes in greater detail whether this kind of intervention produces the expected outcome

Summary

The aim of this systematic survey is to compile and describe evaluated interventions a) aimed at preventing adolescents and young adults from adopting a criminal lifestyle, and/or supporting young people who wish to extricate themselves from criminal networks, and b) employing an interagency approach. We also studied in greater detail whether this kind of intervention produces the expected outcome.

We identified 57 studies which evaluated a total of 40 interventions in the Nordic countries, the United States, and Great Britain. We focused primarily on controlled studies (i.e. studies that compare the outcome for an intervention group with that of a control group).

As there was a scarcity of controlled studies of interventions from the Nordic countries, we have also included a smaller number of process studies, which do not provide information about the effect of the intervention.

The interventions have been categorized as broad local action initiatives, transitions from care or aftercare, probation or parole programmes, combinations of pedagogical and other individual treatment, knifing-off programs, and other interventions which could not be categorized in accordance the above-mentioned alternatives.

We have not found any clear scientific evidence indicating that interagency interventions work better than ordinary interventions. Since our survey data are the result of extensive searches, and have also been examined by experts in this field, there is little risk that we missed significant studies about these kinds of interventions. According to a minority of the controlled studies, the intervention in question seems to prevent recidivism. However, the majority of the studies could not establish the existence of such an effect, especially in those cases where we have compared interagency interventions to conventional ones.

As almost no Nordic interventions were evaluated as to their effects, we have concentrated in this report on what those studies identified as good conditions for, and obstacles to, interagency collaboration, respectively. In several studies, evaluators underscored the following as important conditions for this type of collaboration: initial analysis of local problems, support for the intervention on all levels in the municipality, integration with existing entities, efficient forms of communication, a good understanding of each other’s tasks and roles, arenas at which to meet each other on a regular base, and the local knowledge of various stakeholders. Obstacles to collaboration reported included: a lack of coordination with existing programs and working methods, lack of systematic evaluation, ignorance of each other’s working methods, vagueness as to the roles and finally, differing interpretations by the stakeholders of confidentiality law.

Although there are a host of different Nordic initiatives to promote interagency collaboration against juvenile delinquency, we wish to underscore the need for a greater number of controlled studies to increase our understanding of the role these interventions play in preventing young people from committing crimes.

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