Book News: June 11th, 2009

This report from the Centre for Social Justice argues that a coordinated campaign combining targeted enforcement with intervention and prevention is needed to stem the surge of gang culture in Britain.

The authors claim that both local and national government have shown a lack of leadership and urgency in tackling the problem. This is despite the fact that schemes pioneered by the US police and other agencies have proved successful.

Drawing on projects that have produced significant reductions in gang-related deaths in Boston and other US cities, the report proposes that gang ringleaders should be given an ultimatum by police: either stop the violence and allow the relevant authorities to supply the necessary support, or continue gang warfare and the police will ensure that offending groups are brought to justice. This would involve sustained, daily attention with even minor infractions, such as driving offences, leading to prosecution.

Areas where gang crime is prevalent should be designated Gang Prevention Zones and made the focus of intensive efforts involving all agencies, including police and local authorities, to reverse gang culture. The report insists that a combination of police pressure and the work of other agencies in providing a way out for gang members is critical. It recommends that assistance from statutory and non-statutory agencies should include skills training, remedial education, drug rehabilitation and help finding work.

Dying to Belong is available from the CSJ.