Metropolitan Police: The case in defence of Deon

Principal author: Ila De Mello Kamath, Abbott Mead Vickers BBDO
Contributing author: Craig Mawdsley and Amy Witter, Abbott Mead Vickers BBDO

A new model for public policy communications

Our opening statement

The Metropolitan Police Service's 'Who killed Deon?' campaign was designed to help tackle youth violence by educating disenfranchised teenagers about a complicated legal principle known as Joint Enterprise. We needed to communicate a highly sensitive and complex message to an extremely niche audience, on a modest budget. To this end we hope to show that it was a success.

However, there is also a longer term effect intended by educating young people about Joint Enterprise. Commander Simon Foy, head of the MPS Homicide and Serious Crime Command, said: "The hope is that once young people appreciate the way the law operates, they will think twice about their involvement with groups and gangs and walk away before any trouble starts."1 Tackling complex social issues often requires pre-empting behavior and stopping something before it even starts, which makes the precise scale of the effect difficult to quantify; a fact that meant this paper nearly didn't get written. And yet communications can play a vital role in helping do just this, even on modest budgets. We therefore felt it was important to try and find a way to prove the future-facing effect of this campaign, not just because it is a long-term intention of the campaign but because if we do, we can show that communications can be a vital and effective tool in preventing violent crime, a problem that affects society and us all, financially and emotionally.