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Disorder (Gangs)

Volume 532: debated on Monday 12 September 2011

14. What research she has (a) commissioned and (b) evaluated on the contribution of gangs to the public disorder of August 2011. (70939)

As I said in the House last month, the recent civil unrest was a dark time for everybody who cares about their community and their country, and I realise that the hon. Gentleman’s constituency was affected. As part of the work of the inter-ministerial group on gangs, I have commissioned an assessment of the role played by gangs in the recent disorder, and I will report our findings to the House in October.

I thank the Home Secretary for her response, and should declare an interest as the chair of the London gangs forum.

I have been told by my local police that gangs were not necessarily co-ordinating all the activity in our area, although gang culture is a big ongoing issue for us. How much of the £18 million that the Government have committed to tackling this issue—funding that will help police and local community groups—will directly benefit the London borough of Lambeth?

I thank the hon. Gentleman for his question. If I may, I will write to him with the specific information he has requested about Lambeth. London as a whole is one of the three areas, along with Greater Manchester and the west midlands, that are particularly benefiting from the funding that has been made available, as they are areas where the gang problem is a particular issue. The hon. Gentleman is right that, notwithstanding whatever role gangs played in the riots and unrest of early August, we must deal with gang culture, because, sadly, it is a problem that blights too many of our communities.

Are the events of early August not a wake-up call to the fact that the problem of gang culture, which has been around for a long time, needs to be taken more seriously? Although tough enforcement action against known gang members is part of the solution, is it not clear that a much wider approach will be required to tackle the problem?

My hon. Friend is absolutely right, which is why the inter-ministerial group on gangs is not only looking at the enforcement issue; we are looking at other matters, such as preventing young people from getting involved in gangs and diverting them from gangs when they become gang members. We are examining examples of good work from both outside the UK and within it—for example, in Strathclyde and Waltham Forest.