Violence reduction expert to boost St Andrews research

Thursday 6 June 2013

John Carnochan

The University of St Andrews has appointed former Detective Chief Superintendent John Carnochan to a key post in its School of Medicine where he joins a Public Health Medicine team leading research into violence reduction and prevention strategies.

Mr Carnochan is one of the founders of the national Violence Reduction Unit in Strathclyde and until his retiral after 38 years’ service from the police service recently was its co-director.

He has been appointed to St Andrews to help apply the latest findings in violence reduction and prevention research to the development and delivery of new public health strategies in Scotland. Under Professor Peter Donnelly, the university has led a number of research programmes looking at violence reduction and prevention strategies in Scotland and overseas and works closely with the award-winning Violence Reduction Unit and the World Health Organisation

Mr Carnochan set up the VRU in 2005 with co-director Karyn McCluskey with the aim of developing a strategy that would bring about sustainable reductions in violence within Strathclyde. The following year the Unit was given a nationwide remit by the Scottish Government. In his new post, Mr Carnochan will continue to work closely with former VRU colleagues.

Since the Unit was established, John helped change the way violence is perceived and tackled in Scotland, challenging the idea that it is simply a justice matter. Thanks to the work that he helped to lead, Scotland is now one of the few countries in the world that treats violence as a public health issue.

“I’m delighted that we have been able to recruit someone of John Carnochan’s standing and experience to St Andrews,” said Professor Donnelly.

“In this role he will make a very valuable contribution to the ongoing work of the University on violence reduction and enhancing our knowledge exchange submissions to the REF (Research Excellence Framework). “

While at the VRU, Mr Carnochan helped introduce CIRV (the Community Initiative to Reduce Violence), the Unit’s gangs’ project, which saw a reduction of over 50% amongst those gang members that joined the project.

He was also instrumental in driving forward and supporting the Injury Surveillance programme which is currently running in three A&E departments in NHS Lanarkshire, the Operation Phoenix homicide database and the School Campus Officer scheme.

He is an advocate of early years and parenting support and has spoken widely on alcohol related violence, domestic abuse and the economic benefits of violence prevention.

He has also made significant contributions to violence reduction via his work with organisations such as, the Children’s Parliament, the Poverty and Truth Commission, Alcohol Focus Scotland, the European Homicide Working Group and the World Health Organisation where is the lead officer on the Violence Prevention Alliance, Criminal Justice Liaison Group .

He was awarded the Queen’s Police Medal in 2007. In 2010 both he and Karyn were made Fellows by Distinction of the Faculty of Public Health.

John said:

“When I began my career as a police officer back in 1974, I don’t think anyone would have imagined one day a police officer would be standing on stage talking to a conference full of midwives about the importance of cuddling your child when it comes to preventing violence. The fact that the VRU can and is doing that kind of work shows just how far we in Scotland have come in our understanding of violence and what can be done to resolve it.

“I am immensely proud of everything we have achieved as a unit in the past eight years. I know Karyn and the team will continue that and I am delighted to be able to continue working with them in my new role at St Andrews.

“We have some of the best research in the world into violence reduction and prevention here in Scotland – and one of the most effective delivery systems in the shape of our police forces and public services. I’m excited to be taking on a role which will help us turn the best thinking in our universities into best practice in our communities.”


Issued by the University of St Andrews Press Office
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