Goals and guiding principles of Anchor work

Definition of Anchor work

Anchor work refers to multi-professional collaboration, which:

  • focuses on promoting the wellbeing of and preventing crime among children and adolescents (under 18-year-olds)
  • is carried out by a multi-professional Anchor team that includes professionals from the police, social services, health services and youth services or has access to the expertise and competence of such professionals in some other way
  • meets the adolescent and their family at the earliest stage possible
  • seeks to prevent violent radicalisation and extremism

Tasks and goals

The tasks of Anchor work focus on services for adolescents and their families, the organisation’s operations as well as activities at the local, regional and social levels (Table 1).

The goal of Anchor work is to

  • prevent crime among adolescents and promote their wellbeing through multi-professional collaboration
  • offer adolescents and their families the appropriate help and support in a timely fashion
  • support adolescents’ involvement and prevent their social exclusion and lack of prospects
  • prevent and recognise violent radicalisation and extremism 
  • foster collaboration and information exchange with other early-intervention stakeholders and action models (e.g. models preventing and identifying violence)
  • promote the development of professionals’ skills across organisational boundaries in view of promoting the wellbeing of adolescents, providing early intervention and preventing crime

Tasks of Anchor work at different levels

At the level of the adolescent and family

  • Offer services which can intervene in adolescents’ problems as early as possible to help prevent the accumulation of problems
  • Offer individual and comprehensive support to adolescents
  • Support families in helping adolescents gain control over their lives
  • Refer the adolescent and family to care, services or support provided by other experts, where necessary

At the organisational level

  • Act as a multi-professional expert network to promote the wellbeing of adolescents and prevent crime, violent radicalisation and extremism (expertise and training)
  • Participate in planning and developing the work
  • Monitor and assess the results and activities of Anchor work
  • Increase awareness of adolescents’ situation and the action model

At the local and regional level and the level of society

  • Act as an expert in developing and implementing preventive and early support services across professional and organisational boundaries
  • Act as an expert in developing local, regional and national steering of the work
  • Pursue collaboration with other stakeholders to promote the wellbeing of adolescents (e.g. schools, the third sector, other multi-professional working groups) and to prevent violent radicalisation and extremism
  • Monitor and assess the results and activities of Anchor work at the national level

Principles guiding Anchor work

The key principles in Anchor work are the adolescent’s involvement, individuality and comprehensiveness, multi-professional collaboration as well as the promotion of adolescents’ wellbeing and the prevention of crime. The principles are based on ethics and legislation that encourage and require multi-professional collaboration.

The adolescent’s involvement

The adolescent’s involvement is a guiding principle in Anchor work. The adolescent is the key person in Anchor work. The adolescent’s involvement is based on their right to self-determination. Respecting the adolescent’s right to self-determination means that they are treated with appreciation and respect. The adolescent is listened to as an expert of their own life and treated as an equal partner. The adolescent’s own questions, experiences and descriptions of incidents and events are discussed during the meetings. The client relationship in Anchor work is based on partnership, which allows the adolescent’s involvement in matters concerning them.

The adolescent is heard and can influence matters concerning them. Difficult and unpleasant matters are also discussed openly. This requires building trust between the adolescent and the Anchor team professionals. The professionals engaged in Anchor work interact directly with the adolescent, showing a genuine interest in them and helping them solve problems instead of blaming them. The Anchor team professionals are primarily there to defend and support the adolescent and help them move forward.

Individuality and comprehensiveness

Adolescents are treated individually and comprehensively in Anchor work. This means that the work is designed to address the personal needs of each adolescent, taking into consideration matters that are important in their life. Priority is given to the adolescent’s interests, and measures are taken to identify their resources and support them as early as possible.

Comprehensiveness in Anchor work means that parents and guardians are also involved in the activities. Parents play a key role in supporting adolescents. Therefore, their need for help and support should also be identified so that appropriate support can be offered to address the causes underlying the adolescent’s behaviour. Any needs for support can be identified at an early stage when the adolescent’s situation is surveyed comprehensively. This ensures numerous possibilities for helping the adolescent.

Multi-professional collaboration in Anchor work

The multi-professional dimension in Anchor work is based on a common goal, mutual respect and jointly agreed courses of action. For Anchor work as a whole, this means that the professionals agree that the purpose of the work is to prevent crime, substance use, other behaviour harmful to the adolescent, violent radicalisation and extremism, as well as ensure early intervention and provide individualised support. The common goal requires that all the professionals in the Anchor team are familiar with and committed to the goal. Addressing adolescents’ needs calls for a comprehensive approach, in which the competence of all professionals is required. Every professional has both the right and obligation to harness their expertise to achieve the common goal.

Anchor work has jointly agreed working methods. When working with individual adolescents, the methods and routines used to achieve the goals are planned and agreed together. In addition, the work must be steered locally, regionally and by individual occupational groups.

Anchor work is future-oriented. It does not focus on a single incident or problem alone but seeks to address the causes of the incident and the outcome of any decisions taken. Anchor work serves as a transition phase where adolescents are helped to make decisions that are sustainable in terms of the future and are referred to various services, if required. Planning further actions and service referral requires time and thorough attention to the adolescent’s situation.

Promoting the wellbeing of adolescents and preventing crime

Anchor work is a multi-professional approach to crime prevention, early intervention and the promotion of wellbeing. The focus in Anchor work is on supporting the adolescent’s positive behaviour instead of punishing. The purpose of early intervention is to avoid the piling up of the adolescent’s problems and to support them in solving any existing problems.

Anchor work aims to both promote wellbeing and prevent crime, as the factors compromising the adolescent’s wellbeing and future must be identified comprehensively. The adolescent’s wellbeing consists of multi-faceted factors involving the adolescent, their family and friends, school, financial situation and the conditions in their environment. It is extremely important to promote the adolescent’s involvement and listen to them in matters concerning them. The reasons for the adolescent turning to crime or substances can therefore be multiple and difficult to identify. However, promoting wellbeing and preventing crime call for persistent effort, the impact of which can often only be confirmed indirectly and in the long term. Therefore, continuous data collection and monitoring are needed to assess the results.

If consented to by the adolescent or their parent or guardian, prolonged or serious school bullying, which often continues outside the school and online, can also be discussed as part of promoting the adolescent’s wellbeing and preventing their exclusion and lack of prospects. In this case, the Anchor team collaborates with the education system and contributes to the handling of the matter at school.

Young people live in an increasingly digitalised world, today’s children and adolescents being the most networked generation in history. Information networks are used in all types of crime, and the steep increase in cybercrime affects the daily lives of children and young people. This trend has influenced the criminal behaviour of adolescents and increased the risk of their becoming victim of crime. To recognise the threats and risks that children and young people face online and to address the criminal risk behaviour mainly seen in information networks, the forms and methods of Anchor work must be updated and developed.