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London's anti gangs strategy needs beefing up

The Committee is concerned that there is a growing gap between the speed and scale of enforcement activity and preventative programmes. It concluded that while action by the Metropolitan Police to ramp up arrests for gang related crimes is welcome, the benefits to communities will be short-term without prevention and diversion programmes to change young people’s behaviour in the long-term.

In particular the Committee urges the LCRB to focus on support for borough based partnerships designed to meet local needs. It also calls for greater emphasis on the unique role the voluntary and community sectors can play in developing meaningful engagement with those most at risk of becoming gang members or their victims.

Joanne McCartney AM, Chair of the Police and Crime Committee, said:

“Achieving a sustained long-term reduction in gang related crime and the deep damage it does to communities in London is not a pipe dream. Success in other cities around the world shows that a concerted effort is needed to match police enforcement with programmes to prevent young people from joining gangs and to divert those who have already taken the wrong path.

“If the London Crime Reduction Board and the Mayor are to deliver an anti-gangs strategy that not only sounds impressive but really delivers on the ground, they will need to spell out the details of how their ambitious and laudable aims are to be achieved.”

In its response to the LCRB’s draft anti-gangs strategy[1], the Police and Crime Committee identified a number of weaknesses and challenges which will require further work by the Board if the strategy is to be as effective and cost efficient as possible. These include:

Providing a precise definition of ‘gang related offences’ against which the success of the strategy can be measured 

Providing a much more detailed assessment of the timescale and resources required to implement the strategy

Developing longer term funding arrangements for anti-gang programmes, including alternatives to the commissioning model

Identifying and addressing barriers at borough level to engaging larger regional and national agencies in local anti-gang initiatives

The likely effects of changes to community safety funding

Analysing the unique role charities can play in anti-gang programmes and how these can be better supported

The Committee will examine the strategy’s progress in reducing gang crime in early 2013.

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