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The Violence Prevention Unit (VPU) began its work for the Berlin State Commission Against Violence in July 2020. It is a continuation of the Youth Violence Prevention Unit set up in the middle of 2013 with an expanded perspective to include all age groups and phenomena.

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The VPU provides the state of Berlin with knowledge and evidence-based support relating to violence and crime prevention. While the main priority is to support the Berlin State Commission Against Violence, the unit’s services are essentially available to other senate departments and to Berlin’s districts, too.

The VPU’s main objectives are: (1) to compile situation reports on violence-related phenomena in Berlin and to differentiate them a socio-spatial basis in the descriptions, and the early identification of new developments; (2) to provide knowledge-based judgements and assessments of the violence-prevention measures and services operating in Berlin; (3) to advise the State of Berlin on the implementation and further development of action plans, state programmes and funding lines; and (4) to transfer outcomes to specialist practice and the interested public.

These objectives form the basis of a range of key services provided by the VPU:

  1. The VPU compiles regular editions of the Berlin Violent Delinquency Monitoring, which investigates the development and socio-spatial manifestation of different violence-related phenomena, particularly violent delinquency in general; youth violence and violence in schools; domestic, sexualised and gender-specific violence; and politically motivated hate crime. The manifestations of violence in Berlin are not only differentiated on a socio-spatial basis in the descriptions but also related to the impact of relevant protection and risk factors, and the direction of selected prevention services. To support prevention work in Berlin’s 12 districts, the monitoring includes “district profiles” to present findings differentiated on an area-specific basis.
  2. The VPU produces evaluations of violence prevention measures and relevant funding lines on a continuous basis. It also compiles expert opinions, focusing specifically on Berlin, that examine new issues and phenomena relating to anti-violence work and develop recommendations for action. The evaluation work essentially covers a range of activities with particular emphasis on the priority topics highlighted by the office of the State Commission: (1) urban security at the interface between urban development and prevention; (2) prevention of radicalisation; and (3) cyberviolence and victim protection. Monitoring the promotion of neighbourhood-based prevention work at district level (the establishment of prevention committees, the development of prevention concepts and the implementation of measures) is a consistent focus of the unit.
  3. The VPU’s research and evaluation activities are application and practice-oriented. Knowledge and results from monitoring, evaluations and expert opinions flow consistently into consultation and support services, in particular for the Berlin State Commission Against Violence. The overall concept “Berlin against Violence” is of central importance here. Twenty-five years after the report by the Independent Commission on Preventing and Combating Violence in Berlin, the Youth Violence Prevention Unit undertook the first comprehensive, cross-departmental inventory and evaluation of violence prevention in Berlin on behalf of the State Commission and in close co-ordination with specialist departments, and formulated a conceptual framework for its further development. The VPU is providing on-going support in the implementation of the overall concept, which was agreed in 2020.
  4. Effective violence prevention requires close co-operation between the federal state and civil society. Through its editorial activities, the production of handouts, guidelines and support material, and the realisation of specialist events and exchange formats, the VPU is continuously providing impetus and inspiration for the qualification and support of specialist practice and civil society, representatives of which are also included in strategic projects such as the further development of the overall concept “Berlin against Violence”. The VPU is also supported by an advisory committee consisting of experts from the fields of prevention, criminology, youth research and related specialist disciplines.