Local projects tackle youth gangs

Neil Puffett
Tuesday, February 18, 2014

A report on the Ending Gang and Youth Violence programme highlights good practice to learn from.

Two years after the government launched its strategy to tackle gangs and youth violence in the wake of the 2011 riots, it appears progress is being made on the issue.

Statistics show that across the 33 "hotspot" areas being supported under the Home Office's Ending Gang and Youth Violence programme, violent crime is falling. Inflicting grievous bodily harm without intent fell about 25 per cent in London programme areas and about 33 per cent in programme areas outside the capital. Meanwhile, wounding fell by about 17 per cent in London hotspot areas.

A report on the progress of the programme has highlighted examples of the kind of work being carried out that could be replicated elsewhere.

SHEFFIELD

In Sheffield, local volunteer medical students known as "street doctors" have used their expertise to teach young people the basic medical skills necessary to manage the victim of a violent attack. This includes recognising the symptoms of blood loss, managing a stab wound, knowing how to put somebody in the recovery position, performing resuscitation, how to calm the victim and how to respond when the ambulance arrives. This programme delivered to young people through the city's community youth teams and youth justice service has already spread to Liverpool, London, Manchester and Nottingham.

SALFORD

In Salford, a range of organisations - including, among others, the police, social workers, the youth offending team, youth service and health visitors - have been brought together in a co-located team to tackle gangs and violence. On one operation, the multi-agency team - known as Gulf - executed 15 warrants simultaneously at the addresses of known gang members, which resulted in a referral for a social worker assessment on a three-year-old child at one property, and child protection plans for four children at another property in very poor condition and with drugs in the house.

Beyond enforcement and child protection, the project offers advice and support for people who want to leave gangs and stop offending, and runs positive activities for young people who are affected by serious organised or violent crime. The partner agencies commission the Salford Foundation to offer professional mentoring to young offenders involved in violent crime and gang activity. Throughout 2012/13, the foundation mentored 75 young people referred by Gulf, with a reoffending rate of just five per cent.

Mentors also worked to improve the relationships these young people have with their families and schools, develop their personal and social skills and improve their chances of getting qualifications or employment.

CAMDEN AND SOUTHWARK

Community-based mental health charity MAC-UK is working with young people involved with gangs across Camden and Southwark through a partnership with the NHS and local authorities, a multi-disciplinary team of youth workers, gang specialists, social workers and clinical psychologists. A key component of the work is the delivery of "street therapy" in places where targeted young people spend time, such as cafes or even stairwells in estates.

Alongside this, the professionals work to engage the young people in activities that interest them, and attempt to engage them in psychological therapy such as cognitive behavioural therapy or counselling. The work is in the process of being evaluated by the Centre for Mental Health.

GREENWICH

In Greenwich, a partnership between St Giles Trust and the area's child and adolescent mental health service is focusing on providing parenting support for families of gang members.

Parents who took part in the programme said it has improved their relationship with their children. Of 14 parents who have taken part in the programme, eight remained until the end. Those who dropped out were referred to various agencies so that they still received support.

KNOWSLEY

Safer Knowsley Partnership has worked to improve communication with the community on youth violence and gangs. It has introduced a "community messaging system" to provide members of the public with up-to-date information about local crime.

The internet-based system allows partners involved in the project - the police, council and health services - to provide information to thousands of families on crime and community safety issues through email, text or voice messages, and allows members of the public an effective way of providing information on local crime.

GANG INJUNCTIONS SET TO RISE

The government has revealed a desire to increase the number of gang injunctions being issued to under-18s after statistics showed just two had been granted in the past two years.

Alongside shifting the power to issue injunctions from county courts to youth courts, the government will provide advice and support to local authorities, police, the judiciary and court staff on how and when to apply for an injunction.

Meanwhile, revised statutory guidance and practical advice on injunctions will be published, alongside good practice examples. A review of operational guidance and the kind of training available to local agencies will also be held.

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