Frontline Politeia2024-03-18T16:59:08+00:00

Frontline Politeia

Take prevention science training to the substance use and crime prevention frontline

This project is a practice application of established EU and international standards, evidence-based interventions (EBI) and policies for substance use prevention. A key condition for EBI uptake is to have a trained prevention workforce for proper application. Frontline politeia designs and tests training using the European Prevention Curriculum (EUPC) for frontline staff: teachers, police, streetworkers. It follows up on previous EU-financed work (EDPQS, UPC-Adapt, ASAP) that focused on training DOPs (decision-, opinion- and policymakers). Frontline politeia is their logical complement: the frontline staff coordinated by DOPs need to be trained in prioritising EBIs and phasing out obsolete practices. This project applies high-level training expertise in translating scientific facts into practice by hands-on tools and practising in a blended learning delivery: e-learning intertwined with practical application in communities.

The project team includes 15 European partners; the academic and civil society organisations involved cover 14 member states from all EU regions in 14 languages, adding countries with the recent interest in the EUPC, like France, Sweden and Finland. The game-changing feature is the active and dedicated inclusion of law enforcement staff as important actors for integrated and improved prevention responses, with the European Crime Prevention Network (EUCPN) as an expert contributor.

The focus is on designing and testing e-learning tools with interactive methods and real-life applications by local teams, including the police. Trained competencies are applied in local analysis of interventions or needs with EMCDDA and CTC (Communities That Care) tools.

The name “Frontline Politeia” embodies sustainability by referring:

  • to Plato’s dialogue about critical thinking and the importance of educated leadership, and
  • to the EMCDDA PLATO platform, to which the project outputs (course, tools, manuals) will be compatible for expected adoption.



Leader: HoGent

Work package 1 is intended for all activities related to the general management and coordination of the action (meetings, coordination, project monitoring and evaluation, financial management) and all the activities which are cross-cutting and, therefore, difficult to assign just to one specific work package. Instead of splitting them across many work packages, please enter and describe them in Work Package 1. For this reason, it has a different layout where you do not have to enter objectives and duration. Nevertheless, this work package will have its own deliverables (e.g. reports, work plan, evaluation report) and outputs (e.g. meetings).

Leader: FINDER

WP 2 develops and delivers training for prevention practitioners based on the EUPC and the “Universal Prevention Curriculum Series for Implementers”, which will be adapted to the European context.

The target group includes all practitioners involved or working to prevent youth risk behaviour (especially drug use and youth violence), including school staff, police, justice staff, health, youth, and social workers. It will complement thus – on the frontline level – the previous and ongoing implementation of the EUPC, which is targeting Decision-, Opinion- and Policymakers.

The curriculum will be modular and built on a unified competence model defining relevant competencies needed by prevention practitioners (considering the difference in prevention practice and their current competencies between the professional prevention workforce and the frontline workforce, e.g. police and school staff) and methods to assess them. So, general and specific competencies will be addressed in the competence model. The model will contribute to unifying prevention practitioner training in Europe by defining essential competencies and assessment methods.

The training will make optimal use of available resources and integrate critical findings of:

  • The international Universal Prevention Curriculum Series for Implementers (UPC), developed by Applied Prevention Science International (APSI) with renowned prevention researchers in the USA,
  • The EUPC, i.e. the outcome of the EU-financed (2017-18) UPC-adapt project, including a thorough adaptation process of the UPC for DOPs (different from Frontline professionals). EUPC will deliver content and the adaptation protocol used for “Europeanising” the US-based UPC for DOPs,
  • the EU-Dap Faculty project, 2010-11 EU-financed, delivering a worldwide active network of teachers’ trainers to deliver the interactive Unplugged program,
  • the Quality Plan for Prevention Science Education and Training in Europe, published by the Science for Prevention Academic Network (SPAN).”

Online and distance learning approaches are more flexible regarding the participants’ needs (time resources, learning styles) and provide an opportunity to increase the training’s interactivity and scalability. The professionals reached by the proposed blended learning strategy will have better opportunities to interact, network and learn with and from other prevention professionals under a long-term perspective. This virtual community of practice (VCP) will give impetus to creating a professional culture around applied prevention science in Europe. If accepted, this VCP will be compatible and expected to be included and merged with the existing VCP in EMCDDA’s PLATO platform. The creation of a VCP that builds on core training and delivers distant training modules, deepening the participant’s skill set, comes with several benefits:

  • Capacity building – distant training methods can encompass brief initiation or refreshing modules for professionals, thus lowering the threshold for frontline professionals, newcomers from other intervention fields (social-, youthwork), decision-makers, opinionmakers, and policymakers (DOPs). It contributes to propagating a broader scope of prevention-related policy-making.
  • An online learning infrastructure is flexible, easy to access and scalable at a low cost and thus is in line with the European approach towards sharing research and transferring scientific findings into practice.
    The technological development and visual design of the e-learning tools and instruments will be carried out in cooperation with a professional web developer. The web developer will work in close contact with the WP leader.

Leader: ASL2

WP 3 is central in highlighting the importance of the project’s proposed training and improving the quality of prevention interventions.

The main objective of WP3 is to pilot-test a model for improving the quality of interventions undertaken at the regional and local levels by strengthening the capacity and agency of prevention stakeholders on the key issue of evidence-based prevention (EbP). The guiding hypothesis is that the more qualified key local prevention stakeholders are (i.e. prevention practitioners2,3 and local decision-, opinion- and policy-makers, DOPs4), the better the quality of the interventions will be, and hence the greater the level of their effect on their local communities.

Mapping out—With its REITOX Focal Points, the EMCDDA regularly monitors core features (including behavioural change techniques – BCT) of prevention interventions implemented in each country. Data collection typically occurs at the national level via expert ratings regarding the prevention system in the country and interventions implemented. Albeit rich such data may lack local precision and vital contextual insight that can explain strengths or weaknesses, threats or opportunities for prevention interventions in the different areas of Europe. Importantly, they often lack local agency, that is, the involvement of those deciding and delivering prevention at the regional/local level. Drawing on increasing concern about how guidelines, quality standards and respective promising tools are translated into practice in health5, especially at the regional- and local level, in this WP3, mapping tools will be developed, which would allow a detailed analysis of what is being implemented at regional/local level. Using these common and standardised mapping tools in selected regions, WP3 partners will analyse what is already in place, what prevention interventions are being implemented, what their features are and, especially, what kind of quality assurance and EbP mechanisms (i.e. training and guidelines adapting UNODC standards and EDPQS, evaluation of interventions) are in place.

The interventions will be then classified according to inter alia: (a) the level of involvement of DOPs in the design and monitoring of local interventions, b) EbP-related skills and training of DOPs and local/ground level practitioners, c) the extent to which EbP-related material (e.g. UNODC standards of evidence in prevention and the EDPQS) has been/is being used to guide the design and implementation of prevention interventions at the local level and d) the level of involvement of key local stakeholder groups (e.g., police, street workers, school staff, youth workers, etc.) in the prevention discourse and/or practice in the area.

EU prevention intervention analysis — Selected interventions will be followed up prospectively and analysed to gather evidence that shall either support or challenge the premise that the EbP agency of all levels (i.e. DOPs and frontline practitioners) is warranted to increase quality and facilitate positive outcomes in prevention. Put differently, WP3 will assess whether prospective changes in the implementation process and the local prevention system and/or prevention outcome in some regions are conditional to the presence or absence of key local agencies.

Design and implementation of a model system of EbP-agency at the ground level — A model system of interaction between trained DOPs and local prevention practitioners as well as key local stakeholder groups (e.g. police, school staff, parents associations, youth workers) that also includes training of the latter, will be designed, executed and assessed in the context of the present WP. The creation of local ‘prevention’ teams, who work together in a given area, aims to promote the implementation of EbP interventions and advocate for the abolishment of obsolete practices in some instances.
Training will be delivered based on local needs. Trainees will be recruited throughout:

  • The DOPs (reached in the previous ‘UPC-Adapt’ and ‘ASAP’ projects). Those DOPs will be able to indicate implementers such as educational and social work frontline staff and law enforcement implementers; countries not involved in previous projects will have to determine which important DOPs should be addressed and start this recruitment from the mapping exercise and the stakeholders involved.
  • The EUCPN, as an expert organization in this application, can specifically be involved in the participation of the police force;
  • The ASAP’s Virtual Community of Practice (VCP), where we can virtually connect DOPs with frontline workers (only for countries involved in the ‘ASAP’ or ‘UPC-Adapt’ projects.

All activities of this WP will be followed in parallel by WP5 dedicated to evaluating the training impact on interventions at the regional level. The working hypothesis is that in those regions where the DOPs and the implementers are trained on EUPC, the interventions fit more with the EbP approach and quality standards.

This WP fully draws on previous achievements in some countries with the EUPC. It is, therefore, complementary and aligned to previous EU-funded projects that have paved the way for enhancing the capacity of DOPs in some countries (i.e. UPC-Adapt and ASAP-Training). WP3 will better understand why new approaches on the ground are necessary and need to be supported.

Leader: TAI

The guiding principle of WP4 is that before planning any intervention strategy or intervention for the community, it is essential to explore the nature and extent of substance-related needs, as well as possible causes and contributing factors to those needs (Brotherhood & Sumnall, 2013). This ensures that interventions will be both necessary and ethically sound, meaning they will use scarce resources to correspond to the community. It is insufficient to rely on assumptions or ideology when planning prevention work. Instead, prevention interventions must be informed by an empirical assessment of people’s needs.

This work package will use reliable information about the prevalence of youth problem behaviour and the prevalence of underlying risk and protective factors. If this information is collected in the community with reliable and valid tools, then the data will be used to plan prevention strategies. If no tool is currently used in the community, the Communities That Care Youth Survey (hereafter CTC Youth Survey) will be adapted to provide communities with reliable information (Communities That Care Europe, 2020).

Collection of data on key indicators. The CTC Youth survey is administered to local primary and secondary school students. It enables communities to focus on relevant risk and protective factors and match the most elevated or depressed protective factors with preventive strategies. The YS measures the ‘traditional’ problem behaviours: drug use, violence, delinquency, school drop-out, risky sexual behaviour and depression and anxiety.

Integrative review and data triangulation. The CTC Youth survey will be conducted before the Frontline politeia training to provide communities with data about their situation. Existing data will be reviewed to understand local situations and needs. When a coalition has decided on which risk and protective factors it should prioritize, the next step is to map what interventions already are in use in the community, looking for practical, universal interventions that match their prioritized risk and protective factors (not just any effective intervention).

The need for other kinds of information will be analysed locally (e.g. the need to collect data from parents or teachers), and additional data collection will be carried out to gather a comprehensive overview of risk and protective factors in the community.

Training in the needs assessment. Trainees will acquire basic knowledge and skills about substance use prevention through the Frontline politeia training. Still, the skills obtained in training often will not result in practical changes. To support the actual use of the new skills, the trainees will have to develop, or if already existing, improve their community prevention plan or strategy, considering the survey results. Trainees can share their questions or hesitations about the task in the virtual community of practice. A good understanding of the community’s needs will give practical value to the training, resulting in a relevant, effective, and ethical prevention plan. In the longer term, that will result in actual behavioural changes in communities.

Trainers will be able to support the communities during the process and thus also collect important input to the development needs of the training (i.e. whether the training topics are relevant and useful for the trainees, which topics should be discussed more in detail, which challenges arise when using the new knowledge and skills, whether some essential topics should be added to the course, whether some skills should be practised more in-depth). Thus, it will be a co-creation with local implementers who continuously give feedback on the training development. At the same time, communities will have more support in implementing their knowledge and skills in practice. It will also assess whether the knowledge and skills learned are implemented in practice.

Leader: ELTE

WP5 will evaluate a) the impact that training activities foreseen in WPs have on the quality of prevention interventions and b) how the support of DOPs and the kindred professional networks can further improve the quality of these interventions.

WP5 goes well beyond the “classical” project evaluation; i.e. not only “was it well executed”.

As the project is planned to be implemented in 24 months, a real outcome evaluation (i.e. measuring the impact of the interventions in the community) can hardly be implemented. Our focus will be (i) on the evaluation of the training activities and then (ii) on the selected and amended prevention interventions. The evaluation of the training activities will follow a simple pre-test- post-test design, whilst the prevention intervention assessment will be implemented in the format of a three-arm research design.


Name Role
Hogeschool Gent (HOGENT) Coordinator
Azienda Ligure Sanitaria della Regione Liguria (A.Li.Sa) Partner
Azienda sociosanitaria ligure (ASL 2 Savonese) Partner
Clondalkin Drugs Task Force (CDTF) Partner
Ehkäisevä päihdetyö (EHYT ry) Partner
Eötvös Loránd Tudományegyetem (ELTE) Partner
Edukacijsko-rehabilitacijski fakultet Sveučilišta u Zagrebu (ERF UNIZG) Partner
FINDER e.V. (FINDER) Partner
Instituto Universitário de Lisboa (ISCTE) Partner
Krajowe Biuro Do Spraw Przeciwdziałania Narkomanii (KBPN) Partner
Malmö stad (MALMÖ) Partner
Réseau de prévention des addictions (RESPADD) Partner
Tervise Arengu Instituut (TAI) Partner
University Mental Health, Neurosciences and Precision Medicine Research Institute (UMHRI) Partner
Universidad Nacional de Educación a Distancia (UNED) Partner


Annemie Coone, Project Coordinator


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