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Criminal justice

Tackling crime together: A public health approach

A man and a woman review a board of post-it notes looking to find the connections between different topics.

Crime imposes huge costs on our society. Official figures put the annual cost of crime in the UK in excess of £50 billion but inevitably the impact on individuals, families and communities goes far beyond what can be measured purely in financial terms.

Policy makers increasingly talk of taking a ‘public health approach’ to reduce levels of offending. At its heart, this means developing insights into the deep-rooted causes of crime, smarter use of data and working across organisational boundaries.

Catch22 was pioneering a public health approach long before the term was coined. Our ethos stems from a belief that good people around you, a meaningful purpose and a good place to live are vital to transforming lives. We also know how powerful human interventions built on a deep understanding of the complex factors that lead to crime can have a remarkable impact. Our work with the police, in prisons, social care, probation, schools and apprenticeships makes us uniquely well placed to design collective approaches which are cost effective and deliver results.

This document provides police and crime commissioners and others interested in fresh approaches to reducing crime and strengthening communities with details of our work.

Our experience

We focus on five key areas which together give us the experience and insight to go beyond simply tackling the symptoms of crime.

Victim care and crime reduction

Catch22 works with police and crime commissioners, in prisons and with community partners to reduce offending and support victims of crime. Our victim support, restorative justice and crime prevention schemes already operate across five police areas and provide practical help to thousands of people every year. Nine out of ten crime victims report feeling safer and better able to cope as a result of the support we provide.

Our work in 23 prisons across the UK has supported 50,000 people. Eighty per cent of young offenders we work with comply with their bail terms and do not reoffend. We are key delivery partners for the Mayor of London’s gang exit programme while in the West Midlands we operate a targeted intervention scheme to divert young people away from violent crime. Our pioneering schemes in Thameside Prison have reduced gang violence by one-third.

Social action

Catch22 has a long history of delivering social action projects for young people. At the heart of our work in this area is the National Citizen Service (NCS) for 15-17-year-olds, including many from hard to reach or at-risk groups.

We create opportunities for them to carry out community projects, learn new skills and engage with positive role models. Since 2010, we’ve worked with 30,000 teenagers who between them have devoted more than 430,000 hours to improving neighbourhoods and the lives of people who live there.


Numerous studies have shown the increased risk of offending among young people who disengage from school and education. We operate a network of academies, independent schools and study programmes which cater for those who are struggling in the mainstream system.

Despite catering for children with complex emotional and behavioural needs, eight-in-ten of our school-age leavers progress to positive destinations, either into mainstream schooling, training or employment.

Employment and training

Giving young people a purpose and the opportunity to develop a career is one of the most effective routes to combating crime. We deliver high-quality apprenticeships and employability programmes working with partners such as Barclays to improve the life chances for school-leavers who are among those most at risk of drifting into low-level offending.

Nine-out-of-ten of those who complete our programmes progress into a job, apprenticeship or further education.

Young people and families

We help young people and families confronting challenging situations to improve their lives, feel safe and find a purpose. We deliver services for looked-after children and care leavers, children missing from home and victims of child sexual exploitation.

We also work to combat the devastating impact that substance misuse has on families. Our Surrey-based treatment service provides a help line, one-to-one support, counselling and pharmacological support. Nine-out-of-ten of those completing treatment reduce or stop their use of drugs and alcohol completely

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