Wednesday, 28 March 2012

Youth workers say Lambeth council failing on gangs

Having visited two projects involving young people in Lambeth yesterday - one at Livity in Brixton, and another involving the arts in ten Lambeth schools on display at the Festival Hall, it was alarming to hear the comments of Youth Workers in Lambeth yesterday.

Youth workers have come out publicly and criticised Lambeth council for their failures around gangs.

The particular comments - made to James O'Brien on LBC 97.3 - referred to the shooting of a five year old girl in Stockwell. They said it exposed serious failings in the way Lambeth is trying to tackle gang crime.

Youth workers point out that millions in funding has been cut for services that were helping to address the issue – and this has been one of the direct causes of the spread of gang crime.

This is what one Youth Worker said:

“There are parts of Lambeth they refer to as Gaza Strip or so forth. So the young people recognise that they live in a war zone and they join gangs for protection, because they are not getting protection from the police or the local authority.

“Lambeth [Council] withdrew critical funding for these workers – and these are amongst the best workers that you can get to work with these gang members.”

This is an issue that has been raised by many people. I went down to Knight's Youth Centre in Streatham, which has faced cuts, recently to find out what the impact has been. I have also stayed in touch since then, and it was confirmed that they have seen a big surge in knife crime in particular, usually between gangs and sometimes within gangs, in recent months.

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