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Crimes of Violence

Volume 457: debated on Wednesday 7 March 2007

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what steps the Government have taken to tackle gang-related violence since 1997. (122606)

At the Prime Minister’s summit on guns and gangs on 22 February, a three-point plan was announced focusing on policing, powers and prevention. This work-plan includes a review of legislation relating to gangs, which will look at sentencing of juveniles, and gang membership as an aggravating factor in sentencing and other issues.

We are working closely with ACPO on the related issues of gangs, guns and drugs supply.

We are also working with the Metropolitan police on the development of an operational toolkit on gangs; developing a community-focused toolkit to provide advice to parents and young people; and working in conjunction with the Department for Education and Skills on a toolkit on gangs aimed as schools.

There are a number of wide-ranging national and local programmes that tackle gang-related issues:

The Youth Inclusion Programme established in 2000 provides tailor-made programmes for 13 to 16-year-olds identified locally (by police, schools, social services etc.) as engaged in crime, or being at most risk of offending, truancy, or social exclusion. In first three years of programme, arrest rates for the 50 young people considered to be most at risk of crime had been reduced by 65 per cent.

Safer Schools Partnerships were launched in 2002. With 370 police officers in selected schools in areas with high levels of street crime, the partnerships aim to reduce victimisation, and criminal and antisocial behaviour within the school and its community.

The Positive Futures scheme provides lifestyle, educational and employment opportunities for young people living in deprived areas. Between 2003 and 2006 £15 million of funding from the Home Office and £3 million from Football Foundation, plus individual funding from local supporters, was provided. Since 2000 over 26,000 children have been involved.

The Manchester Multi-Agency Gangs strategy is a partnership which helps young people exit gangs, working intensively with young people and their families.

The West Midlands Mediation and Transformation Service provides conflict resolution and support services, which have defused tension and aim to help young people exit gangs.

Other programmes such as the From Boyhood to Manhood Foundation focus on helping young men develop self-esteem. Boys are referred to the FBMF by local education authorities, special needs departments, youth-offending teams and social services departments. The FBMF helps them to get back on track through its day-programme of education and self-development.

Other local programmes include the “Defending Da Hood” programme in Waltham Forest to engage with hard-to-reach young people in order to discuss issues which are relevant to them, and raise awareness of crime.

We also support local initiatives through the Connected Fund, which was established in 2004. The sixth round was launched on 1 March and will accept applications from small community organisations working on gangs issues for grants up to £5,000. The closing date for bids is 12 April. We have also provided project funding via the Government offices for the regions and directly to projects such as the Urban Concepts “Don't Trigger” anti-gun crime campaign.

Long-term prevention work includes parenting support to ensure that young people are given guidance in their developing years, volunteering programmes to help young people and provide alternative activities, and mentoring services to support young people.