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Dawes Unit

The Catch22 Dawes Unit brings together research, policy and practice in order to understand how to reduce the harm caused by gangs and gang-related crime.

The Dawes Unit works with individuals, families, schools and communities in a joined-up approach that aims to reduce gang involvement and its effect on local areas.

Policy and research

Policy and research work is shaped by practical experience, with research addressing the serious concerns about the problems caused by gangs and how best to prevent gang involvement and support those looking to exit.


Practice takes account of research findings. A pilot gangs programme in Wolverhampton¬†implements an ‘end to end’ approach, whereby young people and their families are supported through all the key points of risk in their lives, including points at which they are ready to make changes.

Guiding principles

Dawes Unit work adheres to a set of guiding principles:

  • Context matters: issues relating to gangs and serious youth violence are different in every locality. All services need to be specific to the location in which they are delivered.
  • Relationships are important in fostering a sense of belonging: young people who do not have strong ties to family, school or community are most at risk of using gangs to provide a sense of belonging. Strong relationships between Catch22 staff and young people should tackle alienation and foster this sense of belonging.
  • ‘Work with’, don’t ‘do to’: solutions cannot be imposed on young people or families; success is more likely if Catch22 and local communities work together and engage young people in developing services and tackling the sense of inevitability associated with gang involvement.
  • Offer real ways out: young people need to be supported towards a real alternative to gang membership that also produces a sustainable income.
  • Use evidence: the Dawes Unit aims to create a sustainable model for tackling gang and youth violence, meaning that every intervention is developed based on existing evidence in order to ensure the best chance of success.

The Dawes Unit is being evaluated by Sheffield Hallam Centre for Community Justice, the outcome of which will be used to refine the gang prevention and exit model.