Exploring the transferability and applicability of gang evaluation methodologies to counter-violent radicalisation

by Matthew Davies, Richard Warnes, Joanna Hofman

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Research Questions

  1. How do evaluations of gang desistance interventions compare to evaluations of programmes to counter violent extremism?
  2. What lessons from evaluations of gang desistance interventions can help develop evaluation in the area of countering violent extremism?

There are currently few evaluations of interventions designed to counter violent extremism. Various initiatives aim to introduce evaluation to this policy area where robust and rigorous evaluations have not yet become the norm.This report aims to illustrate how exploration of evaluations from established academic fields can be used to inform the development of evaluation practice in relatively novel research areas. Specifically, this report highlights a lack of empirical evidence about effective interventions to counter violent radicalisation and argues that there are relevant lessons on evaluation that can be drawn from studies of gangs. Through a targeted literature review and a comparative analysis of evaluations of gang interventions, this report examines the transferable and applicable lessons for conducting evaluations of CVE interventions.

A wide range of evaluation methods are used in gang literature, with experimental and quasi-experimental designs accounting for almost half of all evaluations. Impact evaluations are the most commonly used type of evaluation for gang desistence interventions. Evaluations of gang interventions were rated as being of higher quality than evaluations of CVE interventions, and almost all gang evaluations reviewed were either applicable and/or transferable to CVE.The results illustrate the value of comparative research in developing evaluation approaches in the field of CVE by borrowing from gang-related interventions. It also demonstrates that in some areas, CVE research might offer useful insights to future gang evaluations.

Key Findings

  • Evaluations of gang interventions were rated as being of higher quality than evaluations of CVE interventions.
  • Experimental and quasi-experimental designs account for almost half of all gang evaluations.
  • A wide range of evaluation methods are used in gang literature.
  • Impact evaluations are the most commonly used type of evaluations for gang desistence interventions.
  • The majority of evaluations are conducted independently.
  • Almost all gangs evaluations reviewed are applicable and/or transferable to CVE.

Table of Contents

  • Chapter One


  • Chapter Two

    Similarities and differences between gang involvement and radicalisation

  • Chapter Three

    Method statement

  • Chapter Four


  • Chapter Five

    Limitations, discussion and conclusion

Research conducted by

The research described in this report was conducted by RAND Europe.

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