VCOs that help prevent crime can save society huge amounts

 “We keep young people from getting caught up in gangs and crime, but also help in their general development, discovering who they are as people, what interests them, what they are good at, and what they aspire to do with their lives.”

In 2012/13, violent crime in Southwark was at 18.6 per 1000 population, compared to 10.6 in England. As well as curtailing the potential of young people, youth crime has a huge socio-economic cost associated with it. Members of gangs are more likely to be victims of crime, carry a weapon, commit a serious offence, break the law repeatedly, take part in antisocial behaviour, use illegal drugs or be involved in alcohol related incidents. 

The average cost of a first-time entrant to the criminal justice system is estimated at £3,620 per offender. The unit cost of a court event for violence against the person (for a person under the age of 18) is £7,851. The average cost of a ‘serious wounding’ is £27,943 per incident, with costs spread across police, probation services, courts, prisons, and the NHS.

Gang members carry out half of all shootings in London, and 22% of all serious violence. The cost of violence to the NHS stands at £2.9bn per year.

When we consider the full spectrum of the costs of crime to the public sector, we can truly understand the value of the work that this charity does. However, as well as simply helping young people to avoid crime, the charity also helps them to pursue their aspirations, which most likely leads to them leading more fulfilled lives and getting closer to achieving their potential. The savings to public sector associated with these things are huge - and extremely difficult to measure.

“We support those who have experienced domestic abuse. Our support can prevent abuse from escalating and ultimately reduce domestic abuse homicides in the borough. In 2013/14, our sanctuary service helped 215 clients feel safer in their homes and be able to retain their tenancies”

As well as being incredibly traumatic for the victims, domestic violence comes with a huge socioeconomic cost, with the economic burden spread across a variety of public sector agencies. The average cost of one incident of domestic violence is a staggering £12,331. We can break down the costs as follows:

Fiscal cost: £2,836

Economic cost: £1,692

Social cost: £7,803

The costs are spread across the health sector, the criminal justice sector and the police, and the local authority (children’s social services and housing services).

If 215 clients were supported to feel safer in their homes, we can assume that the charity played a role in preventing at least one domestic violence incident from occurring per client. This would mean a saving of £2,651,165, both for the public sector directly and, importantly, to wider society.

This is a rough way of calculating value, but does provide an estimation of the saving made by preventing domestic violence incidents from occurring. We are not, however, taking into account the huge value of this prevention further down the line – for example, ensuring children grow up in safe environments can have a huge impact on their educational and emotional development. Essentially, it can determine what sort of adults they will become – and what those adults are likely to contribute to society.