Report shows a drop in youth gang violence, but ‘things are still really tough’ in ELL boroughs according to charity

London Riots. Pic: Greg Brummel

London Riots. Pic: Greg Brummel

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Gang violence among youths in the UK has dropped significantly in the last year, a new Home Office report has revealed.

The report shows the progress of the government’s project ‘Ending Gang and Youth Violence’, which was set up in the wake of the riots that tore through London during the summer of 2011.

According to the report, the number of knife attacks involving 10 to 19-year-olds has fallen by 25 per cent since the riots.

Over £10 million has been dedicated to the project across 33 areas in the UK. Initiatives to curb gang violence include hiring gang advisers in job centres around the country, and gang prosecutors in London.

Although the report stated the drop in violence could not be directly attributed to the scheme, Home Secretary Theresa May declared she is pleased with the programme so far: “While of course crime statistics must be interpreted with care, and it is difficult to draw solid conclusions from such a short period, there is no doubt that everyone who participated in the review felt that they had made positive changes to the way they addressed gang and youth violence as a result of the programme.”

However, community groups and other charities displayed scepticism about the results.

Patrick Regan from urban youth charity XLP, told the Independent: “People keep telling me things are getting better. But I’m looking out my window and seeing that actually things are still really, really tough.”

Of the EastLondonLines boroughs, Croydon, Hackney and Tower Hamlets reflect the national trend of a decline in youth gang violence.

In Croydon, where riots raged during August 2011, knife woundings since 2011 are down by almost 15 per cent and incidents where youths inflicted grievous bodily harm with a knife are down by 35 per cent.

As part of the ‘Ending Gangs and Youth Violence’ programme, a project called ‘Community Connectors’ was launched in Croydon. The project aims to encourage young people to get involved in initiatives which strengthen the local community. According to the Home Office’s report, more than 60 community projects have launched, including some involving work with the homeless and the elderly.

In both Hackney and Tower Hamlets, knife woundings among 10 to 19-years olds have decreased by 15 per cent and 53 per cent respectively over the last two years.

However, the rate of grievous bodily harm inflicted by knives in Tower Hamlets by the same age group has risen 33 per cent.

Lewisham, where knife woundings have risen by 15 per cent, is the only EastLondonLines borough to see an increase since 2011. According to the 2011 Census, the increase could be because just over a quarter of Lewisham’s population is made up of young people, making it a ‘young’ borough.

To find a solution, Lewisham’s ‘Serious Youth Violence Strategic Action Plan’ was set up in June 2009. It aims to reduce both the number of youth gangs in the borough and the violence they cause.

Also, Lewisham’s ‘Youth Offending Service Gangs Intervention Programme’, called ‘DECIPHER’, was set up in 2012 by the Department of Justice to address concerns raised by gang membership and serious violence among youths in the borough.

DECIPHER consisted of nine sessions delivered once a week, trying to provide a safe forum for young people in the borough to express concerns and fears about entering or participating in gang violence. Like the ‘Ending Gang and Youth Violence’ initiative, this programme aimed to provide alternatives for youths who might otherwise end up joining gangs.

Youth knife woundings across the boroughs:

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