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Young people are commonly considered a source of problems, especially in relation to issues of insecurity in the public realm of towns and cities. In the UK, young people are increasingly accused of acting anti-socially and generating feelings of insecurity in other users. This paper describes a programme called Youth Design Against Crime (YDAC), developed by the Design Against Crime Solution Centre at the University of Salford (UK) in partnership with a UK young people’s charity, Catch22. YDAC engages with young people considered ‘at risk of offending’ and challenges them to address problems in their neighbourhoods using a process of research and design to help generate innovative and evidence-based solutions.
This paper briefly outlines approaches to dealing with ‘problems’ associated with young people, and details the structure of the YDAC programme. It presents in some detail findings from a process evaluation begun in 2011 of five YDAC projects. This indicates the value of the YDAC design challenge in improving young people’s confidence, knowledge, qualifications and skills, and fostering better relationships with adult participants, including local police. Teams of young people developed creative solutions to local crime problems, and were able to convince stakeholders involved in policing, community safety and urban planning of the value of their ideas. While the resulting changes in attitudes and skills may help divert young people away from antisocial and offending behaviour, YDAC also confronts preconceptions of adult participants—challenging stereotypes of young people, and demonstrating the value of engaging rather than excluding young people in society.