A Multi Agency Response for the Prevention of Paramilitary Violence and Criminal Exploitation: An evaluation of a pilot project in West Belfast

Dr Colm Walsh

Organised crime, violence and paramilitary activity continue to affect many communities across Northern Ireland. Some more than others, and often in different ways. This activity is also often under the radar, but the effects can be far reaching. Within these communities, violence can become normalised and victims can become at elevated risk of perpetrating violence themselves. The issues are complex. As a result, complex responses are required.


A multi- agency response for the prevention of paramilitary violence and criminal exploitation has evolved in west Belfast. Through a multi-agency approach led by Belfast City Council, an innovative project has been piloted that draws on the resources of statutory agencies and complements this with the practice wisdom and local knowledge of a community agency.



This evaluation of the pilot (by Dr Colm Walsh, QUB) shows there is evidence of the potential that the approach can have on individuals who are acutely vulnerable to paramilitary threat and violence.

The data illustrates that in most cases, threats are confirmed, and that by leveraging the combined resources of police, housing, council and community, sector organisations, threats can be communicated, threats can often be lifted, and a process of ‘stabilisation’ can take place.


Applying a public health lens to this work, the project targets individuals on a case management basis and at a tertiary level. This reflects the seriousness of the issues as they become known to the panel. Very often there is a threat to life. Therefore, stabilisation is an appropriate response.


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