Safer Young Lives is part of the Institute of Applied Social Research

MOPAC - Girls and Young Women at Risk

Academic, policy and practice literature recognizes that there exists few, and often inadequate, services for girls and young women who are involved in or associated with gangs and/or group offending and violence. Moreover, little is known about their first-hand experiences with and perspectives on this issue. Against this backdrop, The Mayor’s Office for Policing and Crime (MOPAC) have commissioned this team in the SYLRC to research the following:

  • The context of the lives of girls and young women who have been involved in or associated with gangs and /or group offending.
  • The risk and protective factors of girls and young women who have been involved in or associated with gangs and / or group offending.
  • Responses and gaps in the provision of services for girls and young women who have been involved in or associated with gangs and /or group offending.

The project is commissioned to run from May 2023 and end in 2024. It will involve working with a range of organisations and services from those at community and grassroots level as well as those more established and working pan-London. The project will produce a report of findings that will form part of an evidence base that MOPAC is building to support future commissioning and development of services in this area.


The research will carry out life history interviews with 20 girls and young women aged between 11 and 26 years old, who will represent a range of characteristics and diverse experiences. This life history approach will enable girls and young women to lead in creating their own narratives of experience and representation. They will have choice and control over what they share and be able to identify points in their lives that they feel are significant or important. Within the interviews, a timeline of significant events will be created, and girls and young women will be supported with access to prompts and resources that will seek to explore some of the key contexts in their life history, including peers and friendships, places and spaces and relationships with professionals.

The interviews will invite girls and young women to reflect on the significance of gender across their experiences and perspectives and a gender perspective will sit at the heart of our analysis of the findings.


Principle Investigator: Dr. Helen Connolly will draw from both her expertise in life history and participatory research with children and youth with experiences of forced migration and modern slavery, and from her track record of delivering successful policy relevant research projects, to project manage the design, implementation, and dissemination activities of this project.

Research Assistant: Hannah Millar will be drawing on her extensive experience of working in direct practice with young people affected by violence and from her experience in participatory research. She will work alongside Helen on the fieldwork for the research and in the analysis and writing of the final report.

This project will be running concurrently with another MOPAC funded project on CSA attrition: Journeys through the justice system following abuse


Safer Young Lives Research Centre
Institute of Applied Social Research
University of Bedfordshire
University Square