West Midlands Police in £2 million war on gangs
A new £2 million crackdown has been launched to tackle the scourge of gang violence across the West Midlands.
The two-year scheme will fund 'gang negotiators' to try and break up violence between rival crews, and specially trained mentors to turn young people away from the gang lifestyle.
It will also pay for support to rehabilitate ex-offenders and stop them returning to gangs, while youngsters at risk of school expulsion will get extra support.
The move follows a report by the Commission for Gangs and Violence that was set up by the region's Police and Crime Commissioner David Jamieson, who said communities would 'take the lead' on curbing gang violence.
It comes as the West Midlands is in the midst of a crimewave, with violent crime and incidents involving knives and firearms on the rise over the last year.
Mr Jamieson, said: “When gangs and violence strike it plagues our communities indiscriminately, leaving victims in its wake.
“This comprehensive report has clarified and deepened our understanding of the causes of these crimes and what circumstances lead people to turn to violent crime.
“In order to help reverse the current rise I will invest an extra £2 million from my budget to tackle the causes of violent crime.
“Whilst investment of this sort is much needed, I am more than aware that I can’t tackle this issue alone.
"Neither can the police simply arrest their way out of the situation. That is why I am delighted the local communities will take a lead on reaching out to vulnerable and easily led young people who may be about to make the wrong life choices."
Mr Jamieson also warned that the region's response must not cease 'once the current spike in violent crime is under control', and said we must tackle the causes of violent crime '365 days a year'.
"As a society we must treat this issue with the consistency that we do terrorism or child safeguarding," he added.
West Midlands Police Chief Constable, Dave Thompson, said: “We will continue to do all it can to get weapons off our streets and take robust action to protect people from harm.
“To reduce gun crime and the scourge of gangs it is crucial that we tackle the root causes too.
“In particular, West Midlands Police will focus on deterrence work to prevent crime and make our streets safer.”
The crackdown will initially focus on Birmingham before being rolled out to the Black Country.