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Understanding and responding to youth violence – blending data science with lived experience

  • School: School of Social Sciences
  • Starting: 2023
  • Funding: UK student


The Nottingham/Nottinghamshire Violence Reduction Unit (NNVRU) brings together civic partners from Local Government, Health, Education, Policing, and Criminal Justice to work with communities and the charity sector to reduce serious violence (SV). This seeks to build community resilience, change social norms, and use local intelligence/evidence to interrupt the transmission of violence. To date, intelligence is based on analysis of SV data using official statistics. There is an identified gap as decisions are made on evidence that this is not necessarily representative of local lived experience.

Concurrently, there is an emerging trend of using Artificial Intelligence (AI) and data science in crime analysis. While estimates suggest these approaches could help reduce crime by 25%, there are concerns of fairness and ethics given the growth of automated decision-making systems to predict people’s actions and assess risk of certain behaviours. Criminal justice data contains an inherent bias linked to ethnic disproportionality, and the adoption of AI may perpetuate existing concerns around discrimination, trust and confidence in policing. This may also further distance communities from local decision making for reducing serious violence.

The NNVRU local Strategic Needs Assessment references issues around disproportionality in the criminal justice system, specifically that black and mixed heritage boys continue to be overrepresented. Work is being undertaken by both youth justice boards in the City and County to understand and form a response to these issues in more depth. This research will provide an opportunity to work with communities to build mutual trust in the provision of personal data and its use.

A challenge for this PhD is how to ensure communities and lived experiences are represented in local understanding of serious violence and properly represented in the deployed data analytics. At the same time, it must be ensured that these communities benefit from the use the data analytics to develop innovative smart solutions that can maximise available resources and increase efficiencies for developing local intelligence. The successful candidate should ultimately become a local champion, empowering local communities to develop evidence informed responses to reduce SV that combine lived experiences with best practice data analytics.

This project has been co-created and is supported by researchers from Nottingham Trent University, the University of Nottingham and partners at Nottingham Violence Reduction Unit. The successful candidate for this project would be enrolled at Nottingham Trent University.

Project Aims and Objectives

This project aims to empower local communities to co-design evidence-based solutions to reduce serious violence. It seeks to do so through addressing the following objectives:

  • To ensure lived experience is reflected in local decision making to reduce serios violence.
  • To ensure local data analytics are reflective of local lived experience.
  • To develop community champions to support local decision making in reducing serious violence.
  • To combine lived experience and data science to develop a citizen science model for reducing serious violence in young people.

Project Supervisors

What is Co(l)laboratory?

Co(l)laboratory is pioneering new programme supported by Nottingham Trent University, the University of Nottingham and the Universities for Nottingham partnership. The programme aims to bring together researchers, community-focused organisations and local citizens to deliver meaningful change for the people of Nottingham and Nottinghamshire. All our studentships have been developed through collaborations between academics and local, community-focused organisations to shape the research projects around the priorities of local communities.

Who are we looking for?

Co(l)laboratory aims to bridge the gap between academia and communities through a holistic programme of co-created research that actively engages with public groups. As we work to build a different way of doing PhD research, we need candidates who are socially conscious and invested in Nottingham and Nottinghamshire communities to join us. If you are an inspired individual with practical experience and a passion for creating positive change, Co(l)laboratory can help you elevate your knowledge and skills and make a lasting impact.

Entry qualifications

These PhDs are targeted towards students from non-traditional backgrounds and applicants do not necessarily need a first or 2.1 degree. Applications are open to local citizens, employees and practitioners.

How to apply

Applications to all Co(l)laboratory 2023 PhD studentships must be submitted through through our online applications portal HERE. This also applies to Co(l)laboratory studentships which are hosted at the University of Nottingham. Applications open at 12pm on Thursday 22nd December 2023 and close at 12pm on Monday 6th February 2023.

Fees and funding

This is a funded PhD project for UK applicants.

Guidance and support

For more information on Co(l)laboratory PhD studentships, contact Alex Nkrumah at

Still need help?

Alex Nkrumah