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Gang-related Crime

Volume 537: debated on Monday 12 December 2011

7. What steps she is taking to prevent vulnerable young people from being drawn into gang-related crime. (85722)

In November, I presented the “Ending Gang and Youth Violence” report to the House. Today, I have notified 22 areas that they will be offered targeted funding and support by the new ending gang and youth violence team, details of which I will place in the Library. I will shortly extend gang injunction powers to prevent gang violence by 14 to 17-year-olds and will launch a consultation on the penalties for illegal firearm supply and importation.

I am obliged for that answer. Chief Inspector Ian Coxhead, Tamworth police and other agencies have launched Project Turnaround to identify potential problem youngsters early and to help them to keep on the rails, rather than going off them. Will my right hon. Friend commend that initiative, which has been rolled out across Staffordshire, and consider it as best practice for other chief constables?

I am grateful to my hon. Friend for bringing Project Turnaround to the notice of the House and I congratulate Chief Inspector Coxhead and all those who work with him on their work. It seems to be a good example of what we talked about in the “Ending Gang and Youth Violence” report—of police working with other agencies to find the best solutions for individuals and either prevent them from becoming gang members or turn them away from gangs.

Does the Home Secretary agree that this is a key area for a joined-up approach across Government? By that I mean a Government who believe in keeping youth services active and working in our communities, and a Government who believe that 1 million unemployed people is unacceptable and will lead to trouble later.

The Government do indeed have a joined-up approach on that. The report was the result of work by an inter-ministerial group that I chaired, working closely with my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions and with representations from several Departments, including the Department for Education and the Department for Communities and Local Government. I am pleased to say that the inter-ministerial group will continue to meet to monitor the work that the team are doing as a result of the report. Indeed, we held our first such meeting last week.

Last week, the ringleaders of a gang of youths were given antisocial behaviour orders after making the lives of shoppers and businesses in Rochdale a misery. If they breach the ASBO, these youths will get a criminal record, but according to page 18 of the Government’s consultation document, “More Effective Responses to Antisocial Behaviour”, a breach of the Government’s proposed crime prevention injunction

“would not result in a criminal record.”

Will the Secretary of State confirm that that is the case?

The hon. Lady is well aware that we will be implementing several proposals to deal with antisocial behaviour and gangs, and I remind her that I have referred already this afternoon to what we are doing with gang injunctions. In the case to which she referred and similar cases, gang injunctions will be available.