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Urgent action required to reduce involvement of children in gangs

27 February 2015

The Home Affairs Committee published a report on gangs and youth crime on 27 February 2015.

The Home Affairs Committee of the House of Commons has today published its report, Gangs and youth crime following an inquiry which began in March 2014.

Findings

'Ending Gang and Youth Violence' strategy

  • The Home Office has spent over £10 million on its Ending Gang and Youth Violence programme, but has failed to effectively evaluate the project. The Home Office must undertake high-quality comparative evaluation in order to assess what works best in combating gang and youth crime and in identifying areas for improvement. 
  • The Home Office recently committed one further year of funding for Young People's Advocates, but has failed to assess the effectiveness of the programme or provide clarity around long-term future engagement. An assessment of their role should be included in the Home Office's next Ending Gang and Youth Violence evaluation to discover whether this programme funding is beneficial, and what more can be done to combat gang-related child sexual exploitation.

Policing gang crime

  • Every Chief Constable should appoint a lead officer responsible for combating gangs, including mentoring and training officers and addressing the needs of gang-associated individuals at risk of sexual exploitation.
  • The Home Office should produce a league table of gang injunctions on a six monthly basis. The lead officer on gangs in every police force should be responsible for a continuing programme of peer reviews to ensure the efficacy and increased uptake of gang injunctions.

Gang prevention

  • The primary school anti-gang education programme should be expanded. In every school where there is local knowledge of gangs, a senior teacher should be nominated to mentor and assist young people at risk of gang involvement. 
  • The existing work of local organisations that are well supported and have grown from the resident communities, such as Gangsline and the SOS project, should be expanded. The Home Office should ensure that detailed evaluation is undertaken of projects deemed to be examples of best practice, in order to create models that can work for communities across the country.

Chair's comments

Rt. Hon Keith Vaz MP, Chairman of the Committee, said:

"Children as young as seven are at risk of gang involvement and it is at this very young age that intervention must take place before the situation spirals out of control. Early prevention programmes are vital and primary school anti-gang education programmes in particular should be expanded. In every school where there is local knowledge of gangs, a senior teacher should be appointed to mentor and assist young people at risk of gang involvement.

It is appalling that 2,409 children and young people are subject to sexual exploitation in gangs and a further 16,500 children are at risk. Girls and young women often experience sexual victimisation and violence within gangs, and they can face significant risks when attempting to leave.

It is lamentable that such limited progress has been made in identifying and risk-assessing young people linked to gang members. The Home Office should produce a league table of gang injunctions on a six monthly basis. Every Chief Constable should appoint a lead officer responsible for combatting gangs, including mentoring and training officers, addressing the needs of gang-associated individuals at risk of sexual exploitation, and ensuring the increased uptake of gang injunctions. The Committee was told that the number of people involved in gang crime is far higher than police statistics state, suggesting that we are only scraping the surface of this deep rooted problem." 

Further information