Headlines: November 21st, 2005

More cash seized from criminals is to be made available to local projects around the country designed to tackle gun and knife crime. A quarter of a million pounds is to be ‘recycled’ to groups working in those areas that are worst affected by gun and knife offences. Local organisations have a month to apply for a share of the fund.The money can be used to start initiatives or to support ongoing schemes in areas such as sporting or music activities, to help young people move away from gang culture. It can also fund support for victims and mentoring projects. The money is available through the Connected Fund and Home Office Minister, Hazel Blears, has announced that a new round of bids is now open. The closing date is December 16th.

Hazel Blears said the fund was a unique, simple source of money targeted at the areas suffering particular problems. Groups could get access to up to five thousand pounds with the minimum of bureaucracy, which meant small community oprganisations were not prevented from doing valuable work for the want of a small amount of funding.

“Communities are at the heart of the fight against gun and knife crime. People in all neighbourhoods have the right to feel safe and there is great commitment and energy at a community level to tackle these problems,” she added. Seizing what she called “criminals’ ill-gotten gains” and putting them back into communities and local projects tackling crime was part of the Government’s drive to rebalance the criminal justice system in favour of victims and communities.

The first round of Connected funding, and an additional 2 million pounds of recycled criminal assets, supported 305 groups. The criteria for receiving funding are that successful projects should divert young people away from gun crime, knife crime and gangs, support victims and their families or support the work of law enforcement agencies through sharing ideas and objectives.