Breaking down information sharing barriers to tackle gangs and youth violence

Suzanne WhitchurchSuzanne Whitchurch, Engagement Manager
Centre of Excellence for Information Sharing

As part of our work to support local places with their information sharing needs and aspirations in relation to the Home Office Ending Gang Youth and Violence (EGYV) programme, this week we held a very successful workshop with the Home Office EGYV team.

A wide range of representatives, from the Early Intervention Foundation (EIF), Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) and Epic CiC, a youth support service, together with local agencies from EGYV priority areas, including London, Nottingham and Kent, joined us on the wintry Monday.

Before the first session began, there appeared to be a slight sense of uncertainty among some of the participants as to why they had been invited to join us. In their defence, it isn’t unusual for staff to attend workshops purely to ensure their organisation or team is represented. However, in this case, as far as they were concerned their information sharing policies, processes and methods were in place and working and the uncertainty lay around what more they could gain from the day.

As the sessions progressed and participants discussed information sharing within the context of their localities or EGYV partnerships, common themes quickly emerged from each represented organisation, including those that hadn’t been sure what they would gain. These centred around lack of effective information sharing arrangements within and across different organisations and the barriers encountered as a result.

As the participants became more open about their experiences, it was enlightening to be part of the discussions and to hear the effect that culture, and often personalities, within organisations and partnerships, can have on creating barriers and obstacles that prevent them from sharing data and information.

The day didn’t only focus on where information sharing is not working either. Participants were vocal in recounting good practice from around the country and the positive outcomes of where information sharing has worked well. This really highlighted the benefits that sharing information has across sectors and organisations.

After hearing an assortment of success stories and different ways of working, the day concluded with attendees reporting back to the wider group on the changes and arrangements they could make to their respective organisations. Some very good examples were articulated about how attempts to tackle the challenges could be made and in terms of the next steps, it felt like there was a real commitment from the group to consider new ways of working, not just in their own organisation but with those they partner.

Having been part of each session and witnessed an initial reluctance turn into intense discussion, it was interesting to see that, when people are placed in an environment in which they feel they have permission to speak freely and that their comments, ideas and contributions are valued, an element of trust is created through which they are more likely to freely share information.

Find out what happened on the day and keep in touch with our EGYV work by following our twitter account @InfoShareCoE and reading these post event blogs:

You can also read our report, Information sharing: benefits and challenges in tackling gang and youth violence  and use the materials we developed for this workshop which can be found in our policy area at this link.