Collecting Data and Information

Collecting Data and Information – Learn how

Steps for collecting data and information

The first phase of systemic violence prevention consists of collecting data and information and recording the results in a structured way. This is important for a good understanding of the situation of violence that you want to address. If your intention is not just to treat symptoms, it is very important to understand the context and causes of violence in your area.

There are different ways to collecting the information you need. The method you choose, and how much information you want to get, depends on the context of your work and the available time and resources.

Ideally, there are four stages in data collection and completion of the study:

  1. Literature research: assessment of past analyses, data and reports
  2. Interviews with experts: people with relevant knowledge
  3. Participatory Urban Appraisal (PUA)
    A PUA is a participatory approach that allows for the interests and needs of the target group as well as their understanding of the problems to be included in the planning, design and implementation of measures.
  4. Systematisation and documentation of results
Steps for Collection of Data and Information

Which information is useful and how can you collect it?

In this first phase, you will look for answers to some key questions to collect the necessary data and information. For a table that includes some suggested questions, click here. Of course, you can complement these with your own questions.

How to research risk factors

For an overview of risk factors at different levels and possible sources of information per risk factor, download this table.

The table also indicates ways you through which you can access information:

  • Literature research (a): Useful information is often available from state institutions, research and health centres, civil society organisations, and international organisations. They might provide studies, project progress reports or evaluation reports which contain important information. Documented ‘lessons learned’ of violence prevention from other projects in the area can provide interesting and relevant information, especially for the later discussion of the project design.
  • Interviews with people with relevant knowledge (b): In order to complement the information you have gathered in the literature research, you can arrange interviews with selected people with relevant knowledge. These can be very different kinds of experts: people doing research on violence and violence prevention in the area, people working in the field of violence prevention (NGOs, GOs,), people working specifically with youth, people living in the area with good knowledge of the social structures, members or ex-members of gangs, etc.
  • The Participatory Urban Appraisal (c): The PUA can be the first part of a participatory process. It has at least two objectives: one is to collect information and involve those who know their immediate environment best: the local people. The second objective is to start getting people involved as decision-makers in processes that affect their lives.The table with suggested questions - see download link above - indicates the number of the tool(s) that are useful for the respective question. The tools are listed further below on this page.
Transect Walk during safety audit, August 2013, Bekkersdal

Who can carry out the study?

In the ideal case, you can compose a team made up of at least one man and one woman to carry out the study, and to facilitate the process of collection of information and data. Ideally these persons have experience inworking with participatory tools, have access to people in government, the administrationand civil society, and who hold important knowledge and are experienced in working with young people.

It is essential to be clear about the consultant’s assignment in order to ensure the quality of his or her work. Precise terms of reference (ToR) form the basis of a contract.

This template serves as a model for ToRs and only needs to be adapted to the respective context.

End product

When all four proposed stages have been completed, there are two different end product of this first phase:

  • A developed document which contains all collected information and data in a structured manner. The study provides information about the causes, the extent and the consequences of violence important for analysis and the planning process. Part of the documented information might serve later as a reference to determine the impact of prevention measures (baseline).
  • A participatory process has started, which enables people to analyse the situation of violence, to identify their own solutions and become active.
Transect Walk during safety perception audit, November 2013, Mohlakeng


Below you will find some tools which are helpful when you start to work with people on the topics of crime and violence, as well as prevention. They help to get participants to tune in to the topics and the way of working.

Tool 1 - Timeline (90 min.)


  • To depict the main changes in the experiences of youth violence, listing them chronologically along a time axis.
  • To get participants to see the situation of violence against the background of other changes in the broader context.


Tool 2 - Social Resources and Safety Mapping (120 min.)


  • This tool serves to create an overview of available services. It seeks to examine such services in a general sense, but also in terms of spaces for leisure activities or other services specifically for young people. The aim is to locate such services a sketched map. In addition, the tool generates discussion whether such services are accessible and work as they were meant to.
  • Finally, the tool can help to point out services that may be lacking, and the potential for improving their accessibility. In a second step, spaces and routes of safety and unsafety are discussed and marked. 


Tool 3 - Actors Venn Diagram/Services Venn Diagram ( 90 min.)


  • To identify relevant external and internal actors (organisations, institutions, groups) in terms of violence and specifically youth.
  • To bring about a better understanding of the relationships and balance of power between these relevant actors and their influence on the situation of young people in the community. 


Tool 4- Detailed Analysis of the Duty Bearers (Service Providers) (90 min.)


  • To identify duty bearers in the community, assessing these actors and describing them in greater detail.
  • To identify where support for duty bearers is needed so that they can accomplish tasks and fulfil their responsibilities, and better fulfil the rights of children and youth.
  • To identify potentially useful resources.
  • To identify potential allies and partners for a possible later project.


Tool 5- Clique matrix (60 + 180 min.)

Objective: To identify different groups of young people in the community with their specific characteristics. Download

Tool 6 - Urban Transect Walk () 60 + 180 min.)


  • To describe different physical environments of the neighbourhood/community and their impression on the observer, including hotspots of the area.
  • To identify and discuss visible and invisible factors that influence the sense of safety.


Tool 7- The Youth Onion (90 min.)


  • To analyse the dynamics of a conflict situation in the community.
  • To sketch a more detailed picture of the young people and ensure that their positions, interests and needs, as well as those of other stakeholders are better known.
  • The tool helps to avoid stigmatisation and marginalisation of young people. 


Tool 8- Focus group discussion on lines of conflict ( 90 min.)


  • To identify and analyse conflicts and conflicting parties in the community/neighbourhood.
  • To allow participants to take a closer look at groups or groupings already hinted at in the Venn actors’ diagram. 


More helpful links

The Institute for Security Studies provides South African Crime Statistics, Crime Mapping and other useful information: 

Up-to-date crime statistics for South Africa can as well be found under: 

or on the home page of the South African Police Service SAPS:

blog comments powered by Disqus