2021: "Youth Gangs" - Preventive social measures to reduce juvenile delinquency and gang crime

European Centre for Social Welfare Policy and Research

Duration: Jan. - Dec. 2021


The aim of this project is to develop a multi-agency model for the prevention of gang violence based on an indepth-analysis of risk factors, prevention policies and social control mechanisms in recent research projects on youth gangs.



Many European countries are confronted with an aggravated problem of gang crime and increasing violence in the streets. Youth gangs often include young people with a variety of social problems associated with poor schooling, migration background, low socio-economic status and living in deprived neighbourhoods.

Social prevention tries to reduce the likelihood that individuals or groups will include crime in their repertoire of behaviours by strengthening informal (immediate and extended family, neighbourhood networks, peer group) and institutionally based (e.g. in education, work, culture and sport) incentives to be law abiding.


The focus of our analysis is on good practice examples and effective social policies to reduce juvenile delinquency particularly in the form of gang crime.

The project aims are to:

  • Identify socio-economic risk factors that may contribute to the involvement of young people in gang crime;

  • Assess prevention policies on several governmental levels (national, regional, local) that focus on the problem of youth gangs, and highlight social prevention approaches in response to the particular risk factors;

  • Present good practice examples from various international research projects;

  • Identify institutions of the public, the private and the civil society such as the police, schools, public health, family, community, social work and probation services, and describe their potential contributions in preventing gang membership; and

  • Develop a multi-agency approach to tackle the problem of youth gangs and street violence.

Desk research will include a literature study on recent international research projects that focus not only on the composition and cultures of street gangs, but more importantly provide clear policy guidelines as outcomes of their research (ISRD-study; EUROGANG; TRANSGANG).

Risk factors, prevention policies, and social control mechanisms will be integrated and presented in a multi-agency model, with reference to some examples from best practice projects.

The results of the desk research will be presented in three policy briefs and a final report: (1) Socio-economic risk factors; (2) Prevention policies; (3) A multi-agency approach. The Final Report will be developed by connecting arguments and findings in the policy briefs.



2018-2020: "SWaPOL -Social Work and Policing"

EU-Project funded by ERASMUS+ Strategic Partnerships in Vocational Training

Duration: Nov. 2018 - Feb. 2021

Project-Website: https://www.swapol.eu/



Traditionally, public space is managed by the public authorities, carried out by the police as the dominant body of public safety. However, in the course of administrative reforms, more and more stakeholders with different intentions participate in the governance of public order. Among them there are associations of social work. With their emphasis on the promotion of health and care they represent the counterpart to the executive body of the police. For a coherent and consensual cooperation internal reforms on each side are needed.

The Training Package in Social Work and Policing, consisting of 3 modules, is the core output of our project. After consultation with project partners we will develop a 2+3 days training package to be tested, evaluated and implemented in partner institutions.

The package shall provide training institutions with a basic grid for definition and discussion of major themes at the intersection between the two professional groups, supplemented and supported by teaching material such as manuals and documentary material of best practice examples in the partner countries. In addition to conventional teaching aids (handbook) the teaching and training package will consider the development of instruments for multi-media teaching (training videos, footage of case studies) and practical exercises (role-play, excursions, field trips).

This training is trans-disciplinary and bridges the gap between social workers and police. Traditionally, there is a strong antagonism between the two professional groups. We consider our efforts as vital to foster exchange, transparency, mutual trust and sharing responsibilities between these professionals, and we expect a positive effect for marginalised people in the streets.


Project Partners:

  1. European Centre for Social Welfare Policy and Research (Co-ordinator)
  2. University College Gent (HoGent) - Belgium
  3. FH Joanneum Gesellschaft MBH (FHJ) - Austria
  4. Camara Municipal de Lisboa - The Lisbon Municipal Police (LMP) - Portugal
  5. Universidade de Porto (U.Porto) - Portugal

Associated Partners:

  • Department for Crime Prevention in the Vienna Police (Landespolizeidirektion Wien)
  • The Innovation Centre for Security at Ghent University
  • Paulo Police Academy Ghent
  • Higher School for Education at the Polytechnic Institute of Porto