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Tagged In:  Drugs

The Home Office recently published its new strategy to tackle gang activity, aptly named ‘Ending gang violence and exploitation’.

 


Although the strategy focuses primarily on the 52 areas in which the Ending Gang and Youth Violence (EGYV) programme operates, the report shows a greater understanding of how gangs operate and how they continue to adapt in order to evade the law. 

What is clear, as probation officers and youth offending officers will appreciate, street gangs are becoming less openly visible and are even extending out of cities, exploiting vulnerable people in the process. 

The change in activity and reports from the National Crime Agency only a matter of months ago, shows that gangs are using mobile phone lines to extend drug dealing into new geographical areas, with so-called ‘hotlines’ marketed on their ‘business cards’. There are also reports of gangs offering introductory offers, buy-one-get-one-free deals, to attract new business. 

The six priorities outlined in the Home Office’s strategy take a multi-agency approach. To save you reading the entire strategy, here’s what we’ve gleaned:

1. Addressing county lines


With gang members taking their drugs markets into more rural and seaside locations, there is less competition from rival gangs and potentially more custom. This leaves vulnerable young people and adults at risk of being coerced into selling drugs. The Home Office has made it clear that police forces and their partners, including those working in substance misuse, need to develop an understanding of the local impact and how they can come together to protect vulnerable people from being exploited. 

2. Protecting vulnerable locations


The Home Office notes that Looked After Children and those known to social services or youth offending teams are particularly at risk of becoming involved with gangs as they move out of county lines. That’s not to say that children not known to services are not at risk, but the evidence shows that residential children’s care homes are being targeted, with gang members even waiting outside of schools. More should be done by partners to help address this risk and protect those locations more at risk, says the Home Office.
 

3. Reducing knife crime


We’ve spoken quite a lot about knife crime in various blogs and so it’s encouraging to see the Home Office emphasising its commitment to reducing gang related knife crime, citing the importance of local partnerships to help tackle violence and possession. 

4. Early intervention


The strategy highlights the importance of collaborating with the Early Intervention Foundation to identify those at risk of being exploited, especially those with mental health issues. There are some great examples of where local areas have developed more effective preventative programmes, which the government is keen to share with other areas. 

5. Promoting alternatives to gangs


The Home Office is already working with the Department for Work and Pensions to support those at risk of gang involvements through employment, education and training programmes, many of which are funded by the Youth Engagement Fund

6. Safeguarding women and girls from gangs


The EGYV programme, the Home Office claims, has provided a more informed picture of the factors influencing vulnerable women. With this knowledge, local areas are now in a better position to support those at risk. The priority is to ensure they are not only identified but receive the right help. 


It goes without saying then that gang awareness training for criminal justice professionals is one of our most popular courses at Sanctuary Training. Our one day course provides insight into the mind of a gang member to assist future engagement and support individuals who are in gangs or on the cusp of becoming involved. Our next two courses are scheduled for 16 March and 13 July.
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