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Ending Gang and Youth Violence

A Cross-Government Report including further evidence and good practice case studies

Gangs and youth violence have been a blight on our communities for years. The disorder in August was not caused solely by gangs but the violence we saw on our streets revealed all too vividly the problems that sometimes lie below the surface and out of sight.

Over the years successive government interventions, initiatives and funds have failed to stop the problem. A concerted, long-term effort is now needed. Since August 2011, a group of senior ministers – led by the Home Secretary, working closely with the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions – has undertaken a thorough review of the problem of gang and youth violence. They have visited a range of projects working to stop youth violence, heard from international experts about what works in the United States and elsewhere, consulted with senior police officers and local authority officials and talked to young people themselves. Several key messages have emerged.

Firstly, the vast majority of young people are not involved in violence or gangs and want nothing to do with it.

Secondly, the small number of young people who are involved have a disproportionately large impact on the communities around them in some parts of the UK. It is clear that gang membership increases the risk of serious violence.

And thirdly, this small minority of violent young people is not randomly distributed and does not appear out of the blue. Some areas suffer significantly greater levels of violence than others; some individual and family risk factors repeat themselves time and time again.

The police and other agencies need the support and powers to protect communities affected by gangs and to bring the violence under control. But gang and youth violence is not a problem that can be solved by enforcement alone. We need to change the life stories of young people who end up dead or wounded on our streets or are getting locked into a cycle of re-offending. Only by encouraging every agency to join up and share information, resources and accountability can these problems be solved.