The Group Violence Intervention (GVI) is a strategy for reducing violence in criminal milieux, in a specific city or neighbourhood, and is based on cooperation between the police, the municipality, the prison and probation service, and the local community.
The Group Violence Intervention has produced positive results in several US studies when it comes to reducing the most serious violence in criminal milieux. A central starting point for the strategy is that the majority of all serious violence in a society can be linked to a few individuals. In order to reduce violence, society should focus its resources on these individuals and the groups they belong to.
Malmö was the pilot municipality for the 2018–2020 strategy, under the name “Sluta skjut” (stop shooting). Since then, Malmö has chosen to work with the strategy as part of their regular operations.
GVI stands for Group Violence Intervention, or Gruppvåldsintervention in Swedish.
In Sweden, work relating to GVI is run by the Swedish National Council for Crime Prevention (Brå) in partnership with the Swedish Police Authority and the Swedish Prison and Probation Service.
The Group Violence Intervention was first implemented as Operation Ceasefire in Boston in the mid-1990s. The strategy has repeatedly shown that focused cooperation between the police, municipalities and local communities can reduce serious violence such as shootings.
The strategy is based on focused deterrence, and has a group focus. A central starting point for the strategy is that the majority of all serious violence in a society can be linked to a few individuals. In order to reduce violence, society should focus its resources on these individuals and the groups they belong to. The specific focus on the entirety of a group(s) influences norms, and particularly group dynamics, in such a way that conflicts can be resolved by methods other than using serious violence. The strategy relies on three central elements, all of which are equally important and all of which reinforce each other. The three elements are:
råd för framtiden 2017
Here, you can watch David Kennedy’s lecture on Group Violence Intervention (GVI) from the 2017 national conference of “Råd för framtiden” (advice for the future) by the Swedish National Council for Crime Prevention.
RESEARCH ON GVI AND FOCUSED DETERRENCE
Support for the strategy’s ability to reduce group-related violence has been accumulated over many years since it was first used in Boston. Research and proven experience show reductions in fatal shootings by between 35 and 60 percent in those cities and areas that have implemented GVI. There have also been clear reductions in non-fatal shootings. In addition to the positive effects on serious violence, several evaluations have also shown improved cooperation between actors from the authorities and organisations involved.
The GVI falls under the larger umbrella of focused deterrence strategies. These strategies are problem-oriented and aims to change violent behaviors of offenders by focusing on the dynamics and conditions that shapes them through coordinated law enforcement, community-driven control and social service actions. There is clear academic evidence to suggest that, when properly implemented, focused deterrence can have an effect on serious violence.
The European Crime Prevention Network (EUCPN) has described when different forms of deterrent methods do and do not work. An example of when it does work is the use of focused deterrence.
The work involving GVI in Sweden is part-funded by the Internal Security Fund (ISF).