‘Do more to tackle gangs’

02 November 2012

PA

Still holding: Metropolitan Police handout-photos of recovered firearms as Hume Bent and Carlos Moncrieffe, both 47, and Christopher McKenzie, 26, were sentenced at Croydon Crown Court for conspiracy to supply firearms and ammunition to south London gangs, last month

Still holding: Metropolitan Police handout-photos of recovered firearms as Hume Bent and Carlos Moncrieffe, both 47, and Christopher McKenzie, 26, w...

THE Government has made "little or no progress" in tackling gang culture since last year's riots ( News, 12 August 2011), a new study suggests.

Time to Wake Up, published by the Centre for Social Justice (CSJ), draws on interviews with charities and former gang members. It says that one in five of those convicted of taking part in the riots was a gang member.

The managing director of CSJ, Christian Guy, writes in the introduction to the report that many of those interviewed for the report "have drawn us a picture of little or no progress, despite the publication of a positive political strategy. Some have even suggested that the problem is becoming worse, with increased violence amongst younger gang members and growing numbers of girls joining gangs."

The report calls on the Government "to set out a long-term commitment to defuse the problem of gangs in the UK". This can be achieved by building "stronger families and communities"; investing in "thorough preventative work"; and improving relations between the police and young people.

Many of those interviewed for the report said that work to prevent young people's joining gangs when they were young had "fallen off the radar", Mr Guy said. Ninety per cent of charity representatives "reported that they had not been approached to take part in any preventative work following the riots". This was "indicative of a government being asleep at the wheel".

Writing in The Observer on Sunday, the chief executive of XLP, a Christian urban youth charity, Patrick Regan, argued that it was "naïve to think that tactical enforcement alone will solve the complex causes of violence and stop young people from leaving school and joining gangs".

Mr Regan continued: "Let's not delude ourselves that current policy is making a sustainable impact upon gangs. Far from it. When gang members are imprisoned, a vacuum is created for younger members to step into their shoes, causing an escalation in violence as they vie for position."

In response to the report, a spokesman for the Government told the BBC: "There are no quick fixes, but we are seeing results. The Crime Survey for England and Wales shows that crime is down by six per cent, and police figures show knife crime is down by nine per cent."

www.centreforsocialjustice.org.uk 

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