Gangs and youth crime - Home Affairs Contents

Conclusions and recommendations

1.  The Home Office has spent over £10 million on its Ending Gang and Youth Violence programme, but has failed to effectively evaluate the project. The Home Office must undertake high-quality comparative evaluation in order to assess what works best in combating gang and youth crime and in identifying areas for improvement. This will be vital in ensuring the ten new priority areas receive the full benefit of the programme. (Paragraph 7)

2.  It is essential that gangs and their associates can be identified. It is vital that a unified gang definition is used across the Home Office and police forces to ensure that police forces understand the scale of this issue both locally and nationally. Data on gangs, including their members and associates, and individuals at risk, should be shared between police forces and other relevant bodies. (Paragraph 13)

3.  In each of the Ending Gang and Youth Violence priority areas, the statutory and voluntary sectors need to share information to enable effective identification of girls at risk of gang involvement. Mentoring should be provided to identify girls' specific needs, to build trust and to provide a consistent relationship while the girl is referred between different statutory services. (Paragraph 16)

4.  It is appalling that 2,409 children and young people are subject to sexual exploitation in gangs and a further 16,500 children are at risk. The Home Office recently committed one further year of funding for Young People's Advocates, but has failed to assess the effectiveness of the programme or provide clarity around long-term future engagement. An assessment of their role should be included in the Home Office's next Ending Gang and Youth Violence evaluation to discover whether this programme funding is beneficial, and what more can be done to combat gang-related child sexual exploitation. (Paragraph 24)

5.  It is lamentable that such limited progress has been made in identifying and risk-assessing young people linked to gang members. Every Chief Constable should appoint a lead officer to take responsibility for mentoring and training on combating gangs. This lead officer should also address the needs of gang-associated individuals at risk of sexual exploitation. (Paragraph 25)

6.  It is shocking that London, while experiencing the most gang-related violence of any area in the country, has obtained only fourteen gang injunctions in total. The Home Office should produce a league table of gang injunctions on a six monthly basis. The lead officer on gangs in every police force should be responsible for a continuing programme of peer reviews within the police to ensure the efficacy and increased uptake of gang injunctions. We hope that our successor Committee will monitor this issue to check whether or not these changes have taken place. (Paragraph 30)

7.  The Committee welcomes the launch of the national voluntary scheme to reduce the number of no-suspicion stop and search powers. It is vital that forces undertake local consultation work to ensure that local complaints processes are accessible to young people of all backgrounds, to help restore young people's confidence in the complaints system. A league table should be introduced by police forces, followed by a monthly pro forma which should be completed for the Home Office. The police should also report to the Home Affairs Select Committee with the progress they have made on this matter. (Paragraph 35)

8.  It is clear that young people feel that their experiences are not taken into account. The Home Office's annual evaluation of the gangs programme should also include statements from local lead police officers stating what work they have completed on gangs and stop and search, alongside young people's responses. (Paragraph 36)

9.  We should accept that children as young as seven are at risk of gang involvement. The Committee believes that primary school anti-gang education programmes should be expanded. In every school where there is local knowledge of gangs, a senior teacher should be nominated to coordinate the school's anti-gang measures and ensure that relevant figures come in to the school to talk about gangs. (Paragraph 42)

10.  The Committee recommends that the existing work of local organisations that are well supported and have grown from the resident communities, such as Gangsline and the SOS project, should be expanded. The Home Office should ensure that detailed evaluation is undertaken of projects deemed to be examples of best practice, in order to create models that can work for communities across the country. The Home Office should develop interactive online tools and the use of social media in order to gain the input of local communities on what can be done to combat gangs. (Paragraph 49)

11.  Programmes with records of turning around the lives of young people in gangs and with entrenched behavioural difficulties need to be commissioned more consistently. The Government should expand support for mentoring programmes that focus on gang-affected young people. While it is vital that work is delivered in partnership with statutory and voluntary agencies, a key factor in the success of many programmes is their separation from local criminal justice agencies as perceived by the young people. (Paragraph 54)

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© Parliamentary copyright 2015
Prepared 27 February 2015