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Gang and Youth Violence

Volume 556: debated on Monday 7 January 2013

Large areas of Government policy are having a positive impact on the matter. Specifically, we are supporting 29 local areas that face problems of gang and youth violence. That includes tackling young people possessing knives, which we were talking about a moment ago. We have also recently announced that we will provide practical support to another four areas.

I thank the Minister. I have become aware of some particularly appalling examples in my constituency of young girls being drawn into gangs, and there are high levels of sexual violence associated with that. What work is being done to understand that, and in particular, what further work might be done to provide exit strategies for girls drawn into gang culture?

My hon. Friend is right to draw the House’s attention to an under-reported aspect of the problem, which is the involvement of girls and young women in gangs and the exploitation of them. We are supporting financially young people’s advocates around the country to support girls at risk of suffering from gang-related violence. More generally, we are having a reasonable impact, including through reductions in the past year in homicides, the use of knives or sharp instruments and gun crime, and that impact benefits everybody.

The Minister will be aware that just over 18 months ago there was widespread arson, looting and violence, which emanated from my constituency and spread across the country. Given that context, does he view with alarm the Mayor’s decision to shut half of London’s police stations? In particular, is he concerned about the closure of Tottenham police station and the withdrawal of the police officers stationed in it? Is this not just open season for London’s thugs, gang members and hoodlums?

No; I do not accept that characterisation at all. Perhaps I could draw the right hon. Gentleman’s attention to a recent quote from Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe, who said:

“If we ended up with less people but better technology, and ended up being better at fighting crime, I’d say that wouldn’t be a bad thing”.

The right hon. Gentleman will note that in London, the Metropolitan police reports that serious youth violence has fallen by 34% since the launch of the new Trident gang crime command less than a year ago, in February 2012.