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Riots crackdown followed by violence rise says think tank

2012-10-28 04:55:11

England Riots

The response to last year's riots has led to more violence among some gangs, an independent think tank has said.

A Centre for Social Justice (CSJ) report, to be published on Monday, said the arrest of leading gang members led to chaos in some areas after younger, wilder youths filled the power vacuum.

It calls on the authorities to focus on preventing youngsters joining gangs.

Ministers say a £10m fund is helping to stop the next generation of gang members and targeting current ones.

Although the government set aside millions of pounds to target the problem of street gangs, the report says many charities have been unaware that funding was available following the riots.

And it accuses the authorities of a lack of follow-up work with junior gang members.


English riots one year on

Who's been prosecuted?

Convictions: How tough are they?

Map with video and timeline

The think tank's research also revealed a marked increase in the number of girl gang members and a rise in sexual violence within gangs.

Prime Minister David Cameron promised an "all-out war on gangs and gang culture" following the riots which took hold of many English cities - including London, Manchester and Liverpool - in the summer of 2011.

Police responded by arresting many of those associated with criminal groups.

But the CSJ report finds that the removal of established gang leaders has led to the breakdown of criminal codes of behaviour and a "marked increase" in violence.

'No control'

It says: "Many in Whitehall regard the riots as a random one-off, and mistake the quashing of the disorder as control of the streets. They could not be more wrong.

"The alarming fact is that many streets across the country are besieged by anarchy and violence. There is no control in such neighbourhoods."

English Riots Stats

People researchers spoke to in riot-hit areas are said to have reported a "marked increase" in the violent behaviour of some gangs as the result of the removal from the streets of "elders" who had previously imposed a code of behaviour.

"There was a consensus that the current gangs neither have such a code nor cohesive leadership, which is resulting in increased chaos, violence and anarchy," states the report.

Christian Guy, of the CSJ, which was founded by Work and Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan Smith, says: "Gangs played a significant role in the riots and it is dangerous to pretend otherwise.

"In London at least one in five of those convicted was part of a gang."

The report recommends "addressing the drivers of gang culture, not just the symptoms".

It says: "The surest way of eliminating gangs is to try to ensure that children and young people never want or feel the need to join them. To do this we need to tackle deeper issues in our society and seek to nurture and support ever-strong families and stronger communities."

A government spokesman said the coalition's strategy on violence and gangs made clear this problem could not be tackled through police enforcement alone.

He pointed to a new network of Young People's Advocates to provide direct support to victims of gang-related sexual violence and the introduction of gang injunctions for 14-17 year olds.

The spokesman said: "There are no quick fixes but we are seeing results. The Crime Survey for England and Wales shows that crime is down by 6%, and police figures show knife crime is down by 9%."


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