Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Wounded Gang Members Will Be Offered Path to a Better Life

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Wounded Gang Members Will Be Offered Path to a Better Life

Article excerpt

Byline: Martin Bentham Home Affairs Editor

A NEW Government blueprint for dealing with gangs was unveiled today in a far-reaching move to protect young people from violence and crime.

A key part of the plan will see young Londoners who are admitted to hospital with knife or gun wounds offered immediate help to escape gangs.

Efforts to beat sexual violence in gangs -- which can lead to girls being raped, abused or subjected to other degrading exploitation -- will also be stepped up.

Further changes will seek to improve information-sharing between police, the NHS and prisons so that jailed gang members can be offered help to reform as soon as they arrive in custody.

Longer sentences for knife possession will also be considered, along with new moves with retailers to "limit access" to blades and other weapons.

The new promise of action came as the Home Office published a report in Parliament setting out the progress of its "ending gang and youth violence" strategy launched two years ago after the London riots of August 2011.

The paper says "big improvements" have already been achieved in the 20 London boroughs and 13 other areas of the country targeted by the strategy, with the latest figures showing significant falls in knife crime and hospital admissions for stab wounds. However, Home Office minister Norman Baker said the Government is determined to do more to stop young people being "sucked into" violence as he pledged a further expansion of anti-gang work.

"Gangs have to go and we are getting rid of them," he said. "Gang violence has a devastating impact on communities and must be stopped. We need to ensure we change the lives of young people before they get drawn into a life of violence and crime."

Mr Baker also praised the Standard's Frontline London campaign, which helps young people set up social enterprises to escape gang crime, but said ministers realise more still needs to be done. …

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