Two crime reduction programmes and social integration processes undertaken in two areas of Scotland which sought to emulate the success of the pioneering operation in Gorbals. The initiatives were part of a study to determine best practices in public sector reform.
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Problems and Purpose
In the Glasgow districts of Castlefern and Govan, Operation Modulus was utilized in an attempt to countenance anti-social behaviour, following its success in Gorbals. A key focus of this case study is therefore on analysing how co-produced services can be effectively adapted in programmes from one locality to another. Operation Modulus is characterised as an approach that becomes a programme when developed in a particular context. In Castlefern and Govan it was deployed in response to gang crime and anti-social behaviour among young people. The case study analysed the mechanics of coproduction of solutions to this issue while taking into account the transferability of the methods to the solution of other problems.
The case was analysed by What Works Scotland by Jane Cullingworth, Richard Brunner and Nicholas Watson. The goal was not to focus on how best to tackle issues related to young people and crime but rather to show how the principles of public service reform as highlighted by the Christie Commission (2011) can be operationalised. The research for this case study was conducted through interviews with key public service partners involved in both new adaptations of the Operation Modulus approach, and with young people who participated in the Govan programme. In both examples highlighted in this report, outcomes were achieved with varying degrees of success.
Background History and Context
The original Operation Modulus programme was a violence and anti-social behaviour initiative which was operationalised in response to the findings of the Christie Commission (2011) about the future delivery of public services. The pioneering operation was situated in Gorbals, a district of Glasgow. Following the success of that project, the approach and lessons learned were transferred to two other communities, namely Govan and Castlefern. A What Works Scotland study in Gorbals concluded that these types of interventions are context-sensitive and will not be effective if they conform to a blueprint. Thus, lessons were learned from Operation Modulus in Gorbals but the processes in Govan and Castlefern were distinct.
While both of the operations served similar purposes, the motivation in Castlefern was particularly context-specific. It was operationalised in responce to concern about potential disruption to the 2014 Commonwealth Games which were set to take place in Glasgow.
The programme in Govan formally began in October 2015, though this was after extensive planning and recruitment had taken place. The need for an intervention was initially identified by a community organisation which did not usually undertake such projects, namely Govan Housing Association. Unlike Castlefern, it was not tied to a specific event and therefore not subject to the congruent time pressure. The involvement of Govan Housing Association was distinct in that it positioned the leadership role outside of the wider public services who would usually be expected to fulfil this role. The programme still featured many of the same partners participated in the other Operation Modulus programmes. Further, the leadership were trained by Paul Blackwood from the Scottish Fire Service, who was the leader of the initial project in Gorbals.
Organizing, Supporting, and Funding Entities
In Castlefern, the project was initiated following Glasgow’s Multi Agency and Tasking and Coordinating Group, which identifies priority areas across the city. It is chaired by Police Scotland with partners such as British Transport Police, Community Safety Glasgow, One Glasgow, and Scottish Fire and Rescue. Subsequently, a partnership was formed to develop an Operation Modulus intervention in Castlefern featuring Community Safety Glasgow, Glasgow City Council, Glasgow Life, Jobs and Business Glasgow, One Glasgow, Police Scotland and Scottish Fire and Rescue Scotland (SFRS). Additional partners included the Prince’s Trust, Skills Development Scotland and Venture Trust.
In Govan the project was led by Govan Housing Association, who partnered with City, Community Safety Glasgow, Glasgow Community Planning Partnership, Glasgow Life, Jobs and Business Glasgow, One Glasgow, Police Scotland, Scottish Fire and Rescue Scotland and Skills Development Scotland. These were supplemented by local community organisations including Aberlour Youth Point, Galgael, Govan Youth Project, the Hub, Plantation Productions, Positive Prison? Positive Futures…, and the Prince’s Trust.
Operation Modulus was initially implemented without additional funding by partners which replicated the approach taken in Gorbals. Instead, partners work in a different and planned way together. This approach is founded on the notion of organisations committing existing resources in terms of staff time and being prepared to deploy those resources with flexibility to respond to the co-productive context. The initiative therefore demonstrates how, by taking this approach, public money can potentially be saved by being more efficiently allocated.
Some additional funding in Govan was provided, but this was only after the young people had participated without pay for 6-8 weeks. Community Safety Glasgow provided funding through its Choiceworks programme for a paid placement of nine weeks at the Housing Association for the participants. Subsequently, more funding was provided by Community Jobs Scotland to underwrite the cost of two paid six-month placements for every participant who was eligible. The job centre also provided indirect funding by continuing to support participants financially, even though their participation in the programme would usually make them ineligible for benefits.
The case study of the two initiaitves was undertaken by What Works Scotland, which is funded by the Economic and Social Research Council and the Scottish Government.
Participant Recruitment and Selection
Castlefern: The approach to both the selection of individuals and the method of recruitment were similar to the initial scheme undertaken in Gorbals. Individuals who were already well-known to some of the partners were identified based on intelligence from One Glasgow and Police Scotland. Seven to nine individuals between the ages of 16-19 were targeted; they had a history of lower and mid-tier offences such as drinking in the street, assaults, gang fights and carrying knives. Recruitment was personalised through face-to-face visits to the homes of the young people. The onus for participation was put on the potential participants, who were expected to motivate themselves and were not offered rewards. During the initial phase of communications, the individuals who had been identified as potential participants were asked what they would be interested in learning from a short programme.
Govan: In Govan, the partners jointly identified the key individuals that the programme would target. Eleven individuals who would benefit from the programme were identified in total. They were aged between 16-26, with most in their early twenties making them a slightly older cohort than Castlefern. Between the time that identification of participants took place and the commencement of the programme, one of the young people was supported to return to employment, one went on to college and two dropped out. This left seven participants in total, of whom only one had not committed offences prior to commencement.
Methods and Tools Used
Operation Modulus was a was a violence and anti-social behaviour initiative using a community planning partnership approach which focussed on collaboration and co-production. Decisions about the process and the desired outcomes were taken jointly between participants and organisers, leading to collective action on social outcomes. The case study by WWS primarily used interviews.
What Went On: Process, Interaction, and Participation
Co-production is one of the distinct characteristics of Operation Modulus, and this included deliberation and decision-making. This method was encouraged between agencies, participants and other stakeholders. One of the participants from the Govan programme remarked in their interview that “The fact that we had a choice felt like it was our own decision.’’ At one point during the programme, the participants collectively decided that they would prefer to continue with work they were doing rather than attend the scheduled training. Their request was granted, and during the interviews, the organisers remarks about this incident reflected the philosophy of the project; ‘’we thought well, let's let them dictate what the programme is.”
In Castlefern, a six-week programme was developed from late May to early July 2014 in the run up to the Commonwealth Games. This created an additional external time pressure, which has the potential to be highly unconducive with the co-productive and collaborative approach that is fundamental to Operation Modulus.
In Govan, the project started by formulating an eight-week training programme that included four days of work experience and one day of training. The young people on the programme all had to volunteer throughout the eight-week programme and no financial incentive was provided. On training days Community Safety Glasgow and Job Centre Plus held sessions on a variety of subjects including crime prevention, drugs and alcohol awareness, CV building, general literacy, digital literacy and interview preparation.
A What Works Scotland case study involved a series of interviews with key public service partners involved in both new adaptations of the Operation Modulus approach. The research drew together the lessons that had been learned in all of the programs to define what worked, how, and for whom, across the three interventions. This led to five distinct characteristics of the Operation Modulus approach, all of which are built on a shared commitment to working with the beneficiary group as asset-holders. These were targeted recruitment, co-production, active and flexible partnerships, engaged delivery and multi-level outcomes.
Influence, Outcomes, and Effects
Operation Modulus put a strong emphasis on multi-level outcomes. In Castlefern the outcomes were mixed. In regards to its narrower aim of reducing disruption for the Commonwealth Games the operation was regarded as a success; the anticipated disruption that the initiative was supposed to prevent did not occur. Some of the young people involved gained certificates, some opted for further training, and at least one completed a work placement. There was also a significant reduction in street crime in the area and, in cases where individuals reoffended, the crimes were less serious. Some young people gained certificates, some opted for further training, and at least one completed a work placement. There was also a significant reduction in street crime in the area and, in cases where individuals reoffended, the crimes were less serious. So significant was the impact that it ceased to be a high crime priority area.
However, the Castlefern initiative faced limitations in its overall effectiveness. The ability of partners to co-produce with the young people was constrained by the time limitations and because the focus was on short-term goals rather than the long-term outcomes for the young people. The programme was disbanded after the Commonwealth Games, and there has been limited evidence of the approach influencing ongoing co-productive practices by the services involved since.
The outcomes in Govan were more positive overall. Six of the young people became employed by Govan Housing Association, contributing positively both to their community and to society. Since being employed by the Housing Association the young people have not, to the management’s knowledge, committed any crimes. These outcomes are also economically beneficial, in part due to the reduced expenditure on crime and reduced welfare burden. There were also wider positive impacts on the staff at the organisations, partners and the community. Unlike in Castlefern, there was a lasting effect on the partnership organisations beyond the duration of the operation. The community benefited from the increased feelings of safety and community cohesion. This was also enhanced since the next generation of potentially disruptive youths now have a positive set of role models. Clearly the most profound impact of the programme has been on the young people that participated. They are gainfully employed, part of an organisation and the broader community, and they feel respected. As one of the young people stated, “It’s changed our lives.’’
Analysis and Lessons Learned
The experiences in Govan and Castlefern built on some of the lessons learnt in the first iteration of Operation Modulus in Gorbals. A key feature of the programme in all three cases was that it targeted specific groups but created positive outcomes for everyone. Those groups were treated as asset holders in the process, and their needs were identified and supported throughout. In all cases, individual professionals were central to how each organisation worked in the partnership, including challenging traditional relationships, pushing boundaries, and working in different ways. However, there were examples where an organisation was central to programme delivery in one geographical area, but they were not used in another because individual officers did not consistently work to the programme ethos.
The additional time pressures in Castlefern had a negative impact on the ability to co-produce the programme with the young people, whereas in Govan there was little time pressure so the programme was more able to evolve with the needs of the young people. Another key factor in determining positive outcomes was the inclusion of an employment partner. The ability of Govan Housing Association to offer work experience, and ultimately employment, underpinned the success of the programme there. Whereas, in Castlefern there was no private sector partner or employer partner, which was identified as a weakness in that process.
Together, the successes and failures observed in the cases highlighted seven wider lessons for public services reform:
1. Co-production requires time, focus, flexibility and targeted coordination of existing resources.
2. A shared commitment to work with the beneficiary group as asset-holders requires individual leadership and commitment.
3. The provision of desired and meaningful opportunities maximises success.
4. Co-production builds trust and can lay the groundwork for prevention.
5. An anchor organisation can help to maximise impact.
6. Leadership may come from outside traditional public services.
7. Mechanisms are needed to share learning across communities
https://www.gov.scot/resource/doc/352649/0118638.pdf (Christie Commission report on the future delivery of public services)
Lead image: Glasgow Community Partnership, http://bit.ly/2CY4XDG