This was a ground breaking IARS project that was run on behalf of the London Serious Youth Violence Board (LSYVB) and the Metropolitan Police Service (MPA) to assist the police with the development of strategies around preventing violence amongst young people in London. IARS set up, trained and supported the YAB which was run for two years in order to scrutinise the work of the LSYVB and the MPA, and develop more effective strategies impacting on young Londoners.               


The original idea stemmed from the work of the London Serious Youth Violence Board (LSYVB), who acknowledged that young people needed to feed into its strategies. IARS was commissioned to set up and run the YAB as an independent body.  

The Youth Advisory Board (YAB) also carried its own independent research. One of these was a youth-led investigation into the causes of serious youth violence on public transport in London between the hours of 3pm and 6pm. The idea for this research emerged at a Youth Advisory Board (YAB) meeting where the group discussed different issues relating to serious youth violence between the hours of 3pm and 6pm. The YAB concluded after this discussion that there were some identifiable causes of the phenomena of violence between young people on public transport, which would be explained through further investigation.

Bus stops were identified as a significant space for locus of violent outbreaks. The YAB identified bus stops being used as places where young people frequently loiter, making them prime locations for violent incidents to occur. Further, buses were perceived to be the most frequently used form of public transport by young people, particularly after school hours. Members of the general public were also perceived to be more reluctant to intervene in violent incidents they witnessed taking place amongst young people on public transport, particularly buses.

For this reason, the occurrence of serious youth violence at bus stops and on buses, rather than other forms of public transport, constituted the main focus of the research investigation. 

Project aims

  • To empower a group of young people who have experienced serious youth violence to influence policy and practice.
  • To gather intelligence using youth-led research to provide an evidence for the Police and other criminal justice agencies on a number of topics relating to serious youth violence.
  • To act as a model of best practice for other agencies working to reduce crime through the involvement of users.

Research aims

This investigation was carried out by the Youth Advisory Board using a combination of qualitative and quantitative methodologies.

Key research questions were:

1. Why do incidents of serious youth violence take place at or originate from bus stops and on buses?

2. Are there any groups of young people who are more likely to get involved in these incidents than others?

3. How could serious youth violence be avoided on public transport in London, specifically on buses.

4. The relationship between serious youth violence on public transport and young people’s attitudes towards the spaces they use (e.g. issues of territory, safe spaces, spaces used after school).

5. What is the role of public services (police, youth services etc) in addressing this problem?

Project updates, publications and resources archive

February 2011 Update:A first draft of the YAB’s research report has been completed which is due for circulation at the end of March. Events: IARS’ Research and Policy Coordinator attended to the Safer Learners Workshop at the GLA. The workshop was attended by key stakeholders from the police, Transport for London and schools and colleges concerned with the safety of young people travelling to and from school. The event provided a vaulable opoprtunity to dicuss findings from the YAB’s research with key individuals concerned with youth violence after school hours.
January 2011 Update:Key findings from the YAB’s research have been presented to MPS and the Safer Transport Command. Findings relate both to young people’s experiences of violence at transport hubs and on buses and to strategies for addressing such problems. These indicate that young people appear to feel less safe on buses despite tending to have experienced more violent incidents at transport hubs than on buses. Findings relating to policing strategies highlight the importance of understanding young people’s diverse backgrounds and subsequently using effective and appropriate communication when dealing with them. The importance of engaging with parents and carers and working closely and consistently with local schools also emerged as key findings. Concerns were raised around young people’s negative perception of uniformed staff at transport hubs and problems in distinguishing between the roles of different uniformed staff. The full report will be published in the forthcoming edition of the Youth Voice Journal in March.
November 2010 Update:The YAB have reached the analysis stage of their research project and have spent November formatting their findings appropriately in spread sheets and typed up transcripts. The YAB will be attending supervised data analysis sessions with IARS staff in order to complete their training in research skills.Events: Jacqueline Macaulay, YAB member, chaired an important roundtable event with members of the national media and IARS young people. For more information please see the London Youth Now updates and publications page.  
October 2010 Update:The YAB have carried out face-to-face questionnaires with young people aged 11 – 19 at Elephant and Castle and West Croydon transport hubs. In total 80 questionnaires have been completed by young people across both of these hubs. The YAB have also interviewed two police officers and two Police Community Support Officers (PCSOs) at each transport hub.Initial findings indicate that young people tend to experience more incidents of violence at bus stops rather than on buses but that they tend to feel safer at the hubs where they know they can easily get away. Interestingly, the number of young people stating that they witness youth violence in general was relatively low. This is an issue that will be explored in greater detail during the analysis phase of this project.In terms of understanding how the problem of youth violence could be better addressed, findings so far highlight the importance of strong communication skills amongst police officers and PCSOs. Police officers and PCSOs who were able to communicate effectively with young people were more able to deal with any incidents that could arise. Further, where police officers and PCSOs have been posted for longer periods of time they become familiar with young people. This is turn means that the young people are known to the police and evidence suggests that this encourages better behaviour.Events: The YAB met with the Graham Robb of the Youth Justice Board to present the interim findings summarised above. This information sharing exercise is feeding into the Youth Justice Review which is currently taking place.Click here to read about the YAB’s recent activites from YAB member Tushay Dolen, 17.
September 2010 Update:The YAB have been very active throughout September getting stuck into the fieldwork for their research project. Basing themselves at West Croydon and Elephant and Castle transport hubs between the hours of 3pm and 6pm the YAB have been approaching young people on their journeys home from school with their questionnaires and interview questions. Over the last four weeks the group have been developing their knowledge of the areas and techniques in face-to-face research methods. So far they have completed over forty questionnaires at Elephant and Castle and over twenty at West Croydon. Drawing on their own contacts with local youth clubs, the YAB are also undertaking interviews and questionnaires with young people who use the hubs in their own time. In this way the YAB have taken real ownership of the project, reflecting its youth-led nature. On 12th October the group re prepared to meet with police officers and Police and Community Safety Officers based at the two hubs in order to gain an insight form the professionals on the extent of the problem of youth violence at transport hubs.
August 2010 Update:The Youth Advisory Board piloted their research questions during August. The YAB were given guidance in practicing their questioning techniques with young people walking through Vauxhall station near IARS’ office. The pilot created an opportunity for critical reflection on the questions they asked. YAB member were in consensus that certain questions were in need of modification and with the support of IARS staff amendments were made to improve the quality of this important research tool.The YAB are looking forward to taking their reviewed questionnaires and interview questions to West Croydon and Elephant and Castle at the beginning of September.
July 2010 Update:On 10thJuly, the YAB attended a training session on research methods delivered by IARS staff. During this full day session the group learnt about techniques and important considerations in designing interviews and questionnaires. The session also enabled the YAB to develop their own interview and questionnaire questions for their research into youth violence at transport hub. By the end of the training event YAB members were fully equipped with the skills for developing their own research tools and had improved their understanding of different research methodologies. This has been a crucial part of the groups development enabling them to confidently undertake this robust piece of youth-led research. The YAB have also enjoyed a productive meeting with the Safer Transport Command on 21stJuly at which PS Sarah Coleman gave an informative presentation about the six transport hubs that the police have identified as hot spots for youth violence after school hours. The YAB were able to ask questions and gain a clear picture of the similarities and differences between the issues that exist at these six hubs. The outcome of the meeting was an informed decision made by the YAB regarding which hubs would form the focus of their research project. Consensus was reached that West Croydon and Elephant and Castle should be the two hubs at the focus the research. This decision was reached on the basis of the high volume of schools, students and crime that exists after school hours in these two areas. August will see the YAB pilot their interviews and questionnaires before beginning their fieldwork in September.
June 2010 Update:Update: The Youth Advisory Board’s (YAB) research project is moving into an exciting phase of active research following in depth discussions which have focussed the group’s key research questions and overall objectives for their investigation. The group will be commencing research into serious youth violence on public transport, and specifically at transport hubs, between the hours of 3pm and 6pm. Having been presented with the broad remit of researching an issue associated with serious youth violence between the hours of 3pm and 6pm by the London Serious Youth Violence Board, the YAB identified the issue of violence on transport as being being particularly  pertinent. Following feedback from the Metropolitan Police Services (MPS), the research focus became even more specific with particular interest being flagged in youth violence at transport hubs – this idea was enthusiastically received by the YAB.MPS have been very proactive and supportive of the YAB’s activities and have provided the group with useful contacts within the Safer Transport Command. YAB members are looking forward to taking up shadowing opportunities with the Safer Transport Command which will feed into and compliment their research investigation.The group are due to attend training in interview techniques at the beginning of July in preparation for the primary research phase of the project which will last throughout the summer.



We are Sculpt

IARS International Institute to operate as Sculpt

*Charity CEO available for interview – details in notes 

A UK-based youth charity today changes its operating name from the IARS International Institute to Sculpt. 

IARS is an international NGO that’s been working to empower young people to forge a fairer society for over 20 years. Their work is guided and evaluated by young people themselves.  

Over the last 20 years, IARS has delivered more than 70 successful projects that have addressed real problems that young people face, in areas such as: 

  • Gender discrimination 
  • Violence against women and girls 
  • Supporting young people to find work 
  • Creating green and sustainable business 
  • Promoting collaboration among young people across the world and much more. 

In 2021, with the world changing rapidly and opportunities for their work shifting, they decided to refresh their purpose and identity, and made the decision to rebrand as Sculpt. 

Claire Bonham, Chief Executive of Sculpt, said: 

‘We are delighted to launch our new brand that speaks to our aim to empower young people to shape their future.

‘We believe that many of today’s young people are facing unjust challenges – economically, environmentally and socially. A fair, sustainable society can only evolve if all young people have the opportunities, the confidence, the ambition and the skills to make their voices heard and propel change in their communities, irrespective of who they are or where they come from.  

‘Our rebrand, like our work, has been guided by research and by young people themselves. As an organisation we base our work on rigorously researched evidence and are led in our approach by our youth advisory board. Their voices and insight are critical to solving the right problems in meaningful ways.’  


Notes to editors:  

Dr. Claire Bonham, Chief Executive of The IARS International Institute is available for interview. Contact Claire directly on: +44(0) 7833 224442  


Sculpt is a UK-based charity providing research, training and work-experience opportunities that empower young people to shape their own futures and those of their communities. 

We work directly with young people, employers and professionals who support young people. All our work is guided by young people themselves and based on carefully researched evidence. We: 

  • Facilitate forums for young people to make their needs and their voices heard. 
  • Publish a magazine by young people to express their perspectives and encourage debate around public policy issues. 
  • Conduct research to uncover young people’s real needs and what works to empower and support them. 
  • Deliver training to build young people’s confidence, skills, ambition, resilience and sense of responsibility, so they can shape their futures and change their communities for the better, as leaders, social entrepreneurs and active participants in civic life. 
  • Deliver training for professionals who work with young people, drawing on our research and expertise. 
  • Engage with employers to facilitate work experience and employment opportunities for young people to develop skills and access diverse jobs. 
  • Facilitate international exchange opportunities to encourage and enable young people to experience and appreciate other cultures, perspectives and ways of life. 

We tackle disempowerment from three angles: working directly with young people to build confidence and skills and their voice, working with professionals who support young people, and working with employers to break down barriers to opportunity.