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
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