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Gang Culture

Volume 532: debated on Tuesday 13 September 2011

Youth and adult custodial establishments have access to a range of accredited programmes that address offending behaviour, including gang-related issues. Programmes include engaging community and voluntary sector groups to help deliver solutions to gang-related issues, and the National Offender Management Service and the Youth Justice Board support this work. The Government are developing a cross-departmental programme of action to tackle gangs and gang violence. An inter-ministerial group will report to Parliament in October.

I thank the Minister for that answer, which goes part of the way to addressing these issues. However, when I visited the Warren Hill young offenders institution in my constituency last year after there had been a riot, one of the reasons cited for the riot was the growing emergence of gang culture and the fact that when people are placed in young offenders institutions, proximity takes priority over gang dispersal. I would like him to look at this policy again.

I am very grateful to my hon. Friend for the interest she takes in Warren Hill. I have followed up the discussions that we have had and I assure her in relation to gang violence that there is no absolute, rigid rule that proximity should take precedence. When placing young people and adults into custodial establishments, both the YJB and NOMS take proper account of all the factors required and there is emerging good practice around identifying gang affiliations.

As the Minister knows from the evidence that has been received about the recent riots in London and other cities, a number of people involved in gangs were part of those riots. Will he ask his Department to deal with organisations such as User Voice, which consists of ex-offenders who were in gangs, which are willing to work with the Ministry of Justice and assist it in its projects?

The right hon. Gentleman has made an excellent suggestion, which I am very happy to pass on to officials in the Department.

Many of the foreign national prisoners in our jails are members of foreign national EU gangs that commit organised crime in this country. What is the Justice Department doing to tackle this aspect of gang culture in our cities and in our prisons?

Of course, where evidence and intelligence of that kind are received, they will be acted on to make sure that those gangs cannot operate within the prison estate and that gang members are properly dispersed by the placement decisions taken by NOMS. We will also want, as we do with all foreign national prisoners, to try to make sure that those people go home to serve their sentences.