Violence is caused by masculine expectations, it happens in public places, and trust in authorities is low, according to the 70 young people in Greater Manchester who contributed to a new report that shaped a ten-year violence prevention strategy in the city-region.

Researchers from Manchester Centre for Youth Studies at Manchester Metropolitan University in partnership with Greater Manchester Violence Reduction Unit (VRU) have published their findings in a report examining the views and opinions of violence from young people in Greater Manchester which has been used to inform and develop the Greater than Violence strategy.

Developed by the Mayor and Deputy Mayor of Greater Manchester, in collaboration with Greater Manchester VRU, partner agencies, communities, and the Voluntary, Community, and Social Enterprise (VCSE) sector, the new strategy is a 10-year commitment to reducing violence and improving the lives of young people across the region.

Researchers ran a series of workshops with young people aged between 14 and 18 asking them to rank and discuss their views and opinions of what they felt are the causes of violence, who perpetrates violence, what makes them feel safe and unsafe, and what should be funded to address the causes of violence.

Findings revealed that young people across the region understand the causes of violence to be personal, structural, physical, and verbal, with a consensus that it’s mainly caused by young men’s perception of masculinity and often happens in public spaces including streets and parks.

Family, home, strong relationships, and familiar areas made young people feel safe, with a mistrust of police given as a reason for feeling unsafe, and recommendations made for specialist training to work with young people.

Young people made several recommendations for what could be funded to help reduce violence which included having a voice and being listened to, additional resources for young people, support for families, consistent key workers, and safe spaces.

Hannah Smithson, Professor of Criminology and Youth Justice at Manchester Met, said: “We were struck by how much young people had to say on the topic of violence. It is an issue that affected their lives, from feelings of safety at school, when using public transport and contact with the police.

“Young people spoke with authority and have provided an insight that cannot be gained from the usual top-down approaches to decision-making by adults. We hope to continue to work with the VRU to ensure that the young people’s insights and recommendations are acted on.”

Kate Green, Deputy Mayor for policing, crime, criminal justice, and fire, said: “We are firmly committed to a community-led approach to violence reduction which means including the voices of young people and people with lived experience in the development of Greater than Violence strategy was key.

“Founded on two pillars – preventing violence from happening and responding swiftly and appropriately when it occurs – the strategy recognises that to truly tackle violence effectively, it needs to be prevented from happening in the first place, and in instances where violence does occur, there needs to be a swift and effective policing, health, and criminal justice response to apprehend those responsible and protect victims and communities.

“The things young people told us helped us to shape the principles and commitments in the strategy and will ensure that the positive changes young people want to see are implemented.”

Manchester Met and the VRU will be working together to continue the conversation with young people in Greater Manchester, including plans for further surveys and workshops to ensure their voices are heard and they are understood as diverse groups with discrete needs. Services and initiatives reflecting this will be created with them.

Researchers hope the findings will provide the grounding for a longer-term youth-led and bottom-up approach to understanding what young people in Greater Manchester need to stay safe and live prosperous lives.

The Greater than Violence strategy will continue to evolve over the next 10 years to be responsive to the changing needs and challenges across Greater Manchester.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here