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Gangs and Violence Reduction

Catch22 works nationally to address the multiple and complex issues that can lead to gang involvement. People engage best with a service that operates flexibly, so we offer a responsive and needs-led service, focusing not on the behaviour but its cause.

Our approach

The Catch22 Gangs and Violence Reduction Custodial Service works within the prison to promote an understanding of community issues and how these issues may impact a custodial setting. We support prison management by reducing the risk posed by gang-involved prisoners, so that violent incidents are prevented.

Our Gang Practitioners design targeted interventions and deliver adapted Through the Gate services for those wishing to exit gang lifestyles. By offering alternatives to the supposed security and status offered by gang involvement, our strategy is more effective than the suppression only approach used in many prisons.

Through the network of Catch22 services, we are in a unique position to address all a young person’s needs. Our work supports those who have gone missing or are victims of exploitation; we deliver high-level family support, run alternative education provision, and support vulnerable people into employment.


Our impact

Catch22 gang services worked with 7,708 service users in both custodial and community settings in 2019-20. Since the introduction of our gangs custodial service, there has been:

  • an 18% improvement in participants who reported no intention of carrying a weapon in the community
  • a 13% increase in participants who reported that they were unlikely to engage in criminal/gang activity in custody
  • 15% positive attitudinal shifts towards their perceived ability to leave a gang.

Reducing gang violence

Our gangs work combines research on policy and practice with direct delivery, both in the community and in custody. Using a relationship-based approach, our teams take account of the risks and needs of each service user and build on their strengths. Our schools work supports children at risk of or involved in gangs and we also support families and children who go missing and/or are experiencing sexual exploitation.

Catch22’s Gangs Service was introduced in HMP Thameside in April 2013 to reduce the risk posed by gang-involved prisoners, and now runs in four other prisons. Run by professionals with an extensive knowledge and understanding of gang culture, the service aims to capitalise on the ‘teachable moments’ prompted by prison sentences to encourage people to leave gang lifestyles behind. Specifically, the service targets coping and communication skills, and identifies positive educational and employment opportunities for people to pursue on release.

‘I am convinced that the work they have done has prevented serious harm to many prisoners. It is their drive and their understanding of the problem that has made Thameside the safe place that prisoners now consider that it is.’
John Biggin OBE, Ex HMP Thameside Director

Wolverhampton Violence Reduction Service

The Wolverhampton Violence Reduction Service uses an end to end approach working with individuals, families, schools, custodial estates and communities in a joined up approach that aims to reduce gang involvement and its effect on local areas. Our work targets and builds on service users strengths to prevent them from becoming involved in gangs, and provides a range of interventions for gang-involved young people to support them to exit. We use a variety of methods to deter young people from engaging in, or continuing negative behaviours associated with gang activity by providing support to maintain or re-enter education, training or employment, one to one key working, providing activity intervention. We work within the secure estate to support individuals transition as they reintegrate back into community and support pro-social lifestyles.


Related publications

Further information


Get in touch

Contact us if you have an enquiry about Catch22’s youth violence services and a member of the team will get back to you as soon as possible.

Please note

*Due to GDPR restrictions we cannot give out any details of prisoners we work with. If you are enquiring about, or fearing for the safety of a person in custody, please contact the security team at the prison and/or police in your local area. Use the prison finder to find appropriate contact details: www.justice.gov.uk/contacts/prison-finder

Please be aware that we are unable to provide emergency support or urgent responses through this enquiry form.

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