Graham Goulden – Former Chief Inspector of the Scottish VRU

In this very informative video Graham Goulden former Chief Inspector of the Scottish VRU, discusses the success of the unit and shares some insights into steps that he believes would benefit the situation in England.

Graham discusses how working in the VRU changed his attitude to certain aspects of Policing and how looking at these issues through a Public Health lens changed his thinking.

Graham touches on some of the outcomes achieved (reduction in homicide by 40%, more than 80% reduction in youths carrying knives) but also the many factors that led to this. By adopting a Public Health focus, the unit were able to ask why was this happening, what was contributing to the issue and how can we deal with these causes. The philosophy was to continue to learn and evolve their thinking based on evidence. Factors such as ACE’s were a major consideration on understanding how these issues impacted young people. The role of the family and how domestic violence affected behaviours outside of the home. How opportunity could be given to those who had made mistakes, how new hope could be given to those that had never had this.

Graham advocates a balanced perspective. He absolutely feels people should be held to accept for their actions. He also believes we all need to understand the whats and whys and address these causal factors.

In terms of the situation in England, Graham feels that we have much to learn. He feels some anger towards the many social commentators who are grandstanding over various approaches, but fail to deliver on a clear strategy and narrative.

Graham discusses a series of recommendations that he would make, covering:

  • A clear strategy that confirms the need for enforcement, but clearly seeks to focus on prevention
  • A strategy that provides clarity for all agencies and certainty on how they are to collaborate on a shared goal
  • A shift in the narrative that considers subtleties such as Stop and Engage, or Stop and Talk, rather than Stop and Search
  • Clarity over the role of both statutory and voluntary agencies that follows the same narrative and a shared goal
  • A cessation of certain media activities that present daily images of knives, which enforce a reason for fear. Instead he believes a focus on encouraging the right behaviours and norms that we wish to see in society is required
  • A strategy that continues. Evidence clearly points to the fact that a long term and sustained commitment to this issue is needed
  • Engagement and empowerment of communities. Graham firmly believes that the communities and the role they can play in prevention, in changing the narrative, in celebrating positives, is a critical success factor.
  • Young people are missing from the conversation. Graham strongly advocates more young people sharing their views and opinions and being engaged in finding the right solution.
  • Lastly Graham discusses the role of families and fathers. He advises that we need to recognise that this is a largely male issue, whether that be victims or perpetrators. That fathers and positive male role models are critical. They need to be engaged and present in the discussion.




Graham Goulden-Cultivating Minds UK

Cultivating Minds UK was developed by Graham Goulden, simply to create much needed conversations around issues that can impact negatively on learning, on business and sports success.  Graham Goulden, BA, is an experienced and committed leadership and violence prevention trainer.  For thirty years he was a Scottish police officer and Chief Investigator specialising in criminal investigation, drug investigation, training and crime prevention.

For the last eight years of policing career he was a Chief Inspector and a key member of the Scottish Violence Reduction Unit. Respected across the world for its work in reducing violence, this innovative organisation brought a new approach to an age-old problem.  It was during this time that Graham was able to put right what had become an occurring issue for him during his policing career. Often, when interviewing people who had witnessed abuse and violence, Graham was met with the words, “I knew something was going to happen”.  His work within the unit supported him to develop approaches and programmes that help create conditions where good people can do good things when faced with challenging situations.




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