Evaluations and Expert Opinions

The Violence Prevention Unit (VPU) produces evaluations on violence prevention measures, programmes and 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. We adopt a participative approach in our evaluation, research and support activities, and close co-operation with prevention practitioners and clients is of central importance in this. We see evaluations as joint space to systematically reflect on experiences and draw up further development options for prevention.

Berlin advice centre – “Ways out of extremism”

The Berlin advice centre ­­­– “Ways out of extremism” operated by the Violence Prevention Network association is an important support service in preventing the radicalisation of, or in deradicalising, young people in Berlin. It is funded by the “State Programme for the Prevention of Radicalisation” at the Berlin State Commission Against Violence and forms part of a large network of authorities and civil society institutions and initiatives working to combat Islamist extremism. The work of the advice centre’s multi-professional and mobile team is geared towards living environments; people who have become radicalised or are at risk of radicalisation are offered advice and support to stabilise their living conditions and (re-)integrate into society.

The advice centre is being evaluated by the VPU in 2021/22 in three stages: (1) a preliminary study to summarise the status of evaluation research in deradicalisation as a field of activity and to compare the advice centre with similar services in other federal states; (2) a context and environment analysis based on interviews with deradicalisation experts and other institutions in Berlin, to tap into the advice centre’s many co-operation relationships and integrate them into Berlin’s prevention strategy; and finally (3) an evaluation of the consultation setting and results by analysing case data as well as interviews with project participants and clients.

“Click Clever – protect yourself against cybergrooming”

The living environments and social relationships of children and young people are quite obviously playing out in digital space, too, today, and increasingly earlier so. The prevention of sexualised violence in digital space – for example in the form of cybergrooming – is accordingly gaining in importance. The “Click Clever” project designed and implemented by the Innocence in Danger association and funded by the Berlin State Commission Against Violence aims to teach children aged between 9 and 12 about cybergrooming and strengthen their interpersonal skills in digital space. At the same time, it provides training to teachers on how to handle the topic and strengthens them in their ability to do so. A key element in the project is a touring interactive exhibition for school classes.

The evaluation collects data and documents how far the project is reaching its self-defined goals, and it identifies helpful and hindering factors in the implementation of the project that can be reflected in its on-going development.

Quarter development and violence prevention in large settlements on the urban periphery

The investigation explores the relationship between quarter development and violence prevention from a quarter-comparative perspective and takes in large settlements in Berlin – e.g. the “Kosmosviertel” in Treptow-Köpenick and “Falkenhagener Feld West” in Spandau.

A data-based comparison investigates how far the selected quarters show increased stresses from various forms of violence and criminality. At the same time, indicators are used to take account of relevant local characteristics in relation to poverty and social disadvantage. Documentary analysis is used to evaluate quarter-related action plans and analyses.

Structured interviews with prevention practitioners in the quarters are used as a basis for exploring how accesses develop to quarter and urban development as well as violence prevention at the socio-spatial level, if and how these accesses relate to each other and how co-operative and networked work methods can be promoted between the thematic areas and the practitioners operating in them.

The Istanbul Convention in Berlin

The Council of Europe Convention on Preventing and Combating Violence Against Women and Domestic Violence (“Istanbul Convention“) was ratified in Germany in 2018. The human rights treaty aims to strengthen women’s protection against violence and discrimination, and to this end provides comprehensive guidelines for violence prevention, for help and support in dealing with violence, for the investigation and criminal prosecution of it, and in the area of co-ordinated anti-violence action strategies. Although a significant part of these guidelines is already in place in Germany, further action is needed in many areas.

Implementing the Istanbul Convention not only requires the political world and administration but also involves public life and society. In order to inform and sensitise Berlin’s urban society, the VPU produces an information brochure with ten questions and answers about the convention in plain language. The brochure gives an overview of the regulatory areas, goals and guidelines of the convention, of the starting position with regard to violence against women in Berlin, and of the victim support services currently available. The brochure also highlights the areas where further action is needed.

Radicalisation and social inequality

Researchers into radicalisation agree that it is a process depending on different factors and that its course is often highly individual. Structures of social inequality and discrimination are also repeatedly mentioned, although their significance is still unclear or disputed in some respects. The aim of the expert opinions is to organise the knowledge available, highlight possible connections between the concept of social inequality and radicalisation research, and derive implications for prevention work from this.

The expert opinions build a bridge between sociological knowledge of social inequality on the one hand and interdisciplinary knowledge of Islamist propaganda and contact strategies as well as the conditional factors of individual radicalisation processes on the other. Empirical data on polarisation and radicalisation in Berlin quarters as well as socio-spatial protection and risk factors are also analysed and evaluated with an eye on the potentials of violence prevention work. The preparatory work is carried out by “modus – Centre for Applied Research on Deradicalisation”.

Paths to preventing anti-LGBTI violence in Berlin

Berlin sees itself as a “rainbow capital” and promotes a positive approach to dealing with sexual and gender diversity. A central aspect of this commitment is combating discrimination, violence and prejudice-motivated crime that disproportionately affect LGBTI people, including in Berlin.

The expert opinion takes into account the origin and form of Berlin’s in many ways exemplary approach to the prevention of anti-LGBTI discrimination and violence. It analyses key stages and development steps, presents the agencies and operators involved, and describes the forms of co-operation that have been established. How is anti-LGBTI violence recorded and where are there still gaps in knowledge? Where have trusting relationships been established between authorities and communities and where do they still need to be developed? How are prevention networks functioning today and how can prevention become even more deeply rooted in districts and quarters, including those outside the city centre?

Theatre and violence prevention

Children’s and youth theatres in Berlin address young people’s experiences of violence in various ways. Topics such as bullying, violence within the family or abuse are taken up in different plays and formats and worked on using artistic means. Discussion through the medium of theatre facilitates changes in perspective and offers a holistic approach to addressing different forms of violence and to becoming familiar with options for action and testing them out where necessary.

The expert opinion takes the role of children’s and youth theatres in the field of violence prevention into account in order to increase the visibility of the potentials of theatre-based educational approaches in expert discussions. It shows how far the topic of violence and the experience of violence is already a permanent feature in theatres’ repertoires and illustrates the networks and co-operations that exist with theatres in relation to violence prevention services for children and young people. The positive effects that dramatic works can have on the conflict awareness, sensitisation to boundary violations and reflective faculties of children and young people are also explored.

Prevention of violence and group-focused enmity (GFE) in Berlin’s martial arts market

Many of Berlin’s martial arts gyms and fitness studios are organised largely outside of traditional club sports and the structures of state sports associations. A few hostile, criminal groups are exploiting this market in order to use martial arts to train and professionalise their ability to be violent. The violent competencies thus acquired threaten to leave the sports setting and emerge as political violence in public space.

Explorative research into this largely unregulated field is therefore an attempt to provide Berlin with an overview of providers and structures, to analyse by way of example their attitudes and approaches towards violence and discrimination and to learn about their support needs in the sense of more intensive prevention work.

In the medium and long-term, suggestions for action for political actors, state sports association structures and non-association sports structures can be drawn up from this. Robert Claus and Michael Staack are producing the expert opinion for the VPU.

“proRespect – Designing Violence-Free Schools in a Democratic Way”

The State of Berlin is using the “proRespekt – Designing Violence-Free Schools in a Democratic Way” programme to strengthen violence prevention at schools, promote pupils’ participation in shaping school life and make a stand against non-regular attendance and truancy. ProRespect coaches at 30 schools in the programme are developing activities that co-ordinate violence prevention measures and provide impetus and inspiration for the development of the respective school. ProRespect pilots are conducting co-ordination activities at the district level and supporting the networking of the programme while a specialist unit of experts at federal state level is monitoring its implementation.

The evaluation of the programme documents its implementation, investigates its effectiveness and outcomes, and develops recommendations for its further development. The VPU is co-ordinating the project in close, continuous collaboration with proRespect’s specialist unit of experts. This ensures that interim results can be used in way that supports the process and is formative, that the needs and questions of the specialist unit can be taken into account, and that the work processes for the evaluation and the programme can be co-ordinated.