We know what works so why don’t we do it?

This is the fascinating provocation posed by Jon Yates, Executive Director of the Youth Endowment Fund – an organisation awarded £200m to stop knife crime – and a question he seeks to answer in a podcast for the BBC. The podcast can be accessed here.

There are plenty of activities which frequently take place and Jon highlights how there is no evidence to suggest these approaches work (e.g. Police in schools).

In contrast, he highlights activities that have a strong evidence base which might not be happening, such as focused policing in hot spot areas, mentoring and therapy.

Jon interviews Sajid Javid MP, a previous Home Secretary, to try to understand why activities with an evidence base are not happening everywhere.

He concludes that interdepartmental cooperation can be problematic and the complexity of the interventions can make them ‘hard to sell’ politically. He also cites a lack of funding, people and culture as all constituting challenges.

Jon questions whether his work with YEF is “part of the problem” in insightful exchanges with Luke Billingham from Hackney Quest and Jahnine Davis from Listen Up, but he also worries about being too cautious.

Jon resolves to press on while keeping his blind spots in mind, favouring action over inertia.

He gives the final word to Karyn McCluskey, founder of Scotland’s VRU – what does she think is most important? Staying the course – in other words, tenaciously continuing our struggle against violence.

Our take away from this fascinating podcast: there is a consensus within some circles about “what works” built on robust social science – we must build on this knowledge and overcome the barriers Jon identifies, to make these interventions the focus of our work.