Thursday, 11 August 2011

Glasgow gangs ceasefire lessons for the riots

A bit of a mixed bag of measures there in David Cameron's "fightback" against the summer riots. Everything from insurance claims, bans on balaclavas and closing down social networking sites is to be considered in an attempt to slap down on the social disorder we've witnessed this week.

One of the most significant announcements is that the example of Strathclyde Police anti-gang strategy could be rolled out across the UK.

The operation targeting gangs in Glasgow has resulted in a 50% reduction in violent offending by those taking part. In a city with a stab rate on a par with New York that is some result.

The prosaically-named Community Initiative to Reduce Violence (CIRV) is itself a copy of the more bling-sounding Boston Ceasefire project which was ran in that US city from 1996 and had success too.

Both schemes made breakthroughs by talking to gang members, offering them an alternative, and getting them to confront the victims, the mothers, the surgeons and the cops that have to stitch back together the slashed lives of gang violence.

Quite simply the young gang members were told if they stopped the gang fights they'd have access to help with training, housing, education and community groups. If they carried on, they'd go to jail.

Four hundred gang members signed up in Glasgow - mostly pressurised through their parents - and violent offending among those who undertook the most intensive programme fell by 73%.

All the gen is towards the end of this excellent Prospect magazine piece on Karyn McCluskey, the officer who brought the scheme to Strathclyde after it had been rejected in London and and West Mercia.

Iain Duncan Smith's social justice think-tank has done a lot of work on gang culture and the Work and Pensions Secretary is working with Home Office on how the Westminster government will respond to gang culture.

We're expecting a report in October, expect Glasgow to feature prominently again in Iain Duncan Smith's thinking.

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