Monitoring and quality control

Controlling and improving the quality of prevention is highly dependent on first having a meaningful overview of existing activities and their contents. Accordingly, Member States are giving increasing importance to monitoring prevention programmes, as exemplified by new schemes in Germany (33) and in Norway (34) and by the Hungarian research project ‘Lights and Shadows’, which collected information on the content, objectives, methodology, target groups and coverage of school-based prevention programmes. Monitoring is also implemented in the Czech Republic as well as through Ginger in Flanders. Unfortunately, Spain has abandoned IDEA Prevención, which for many years was the best-developed monitoring and quality system on prevention in Europe.

Information systems on prevention also help to track the occurrence of ineffective practices and programme components. For instance, one-off information sessions or lectures by experts or police officers are still common in several Member States, despite the unanimous conclusions from research that these interventions are at best ineffective, if not harmful (Canning et al., 2004).

Only by systematically recording prevention activities can the content of prevention programmes be reviewed and, as a result, based on existing knowledge regarding effectiveness, targeted to specific populations. Guidelines or standards for the implementation of prevention programmes are essential, particularly in countries where prevention is strongly decentralised.