Attack on gangs and youth violence launched by Islington Council

Councillor Paul Convery

Councillor Paul Convery - Credit: Archant

New youth crime strategy will see new team disrupt gangs and go after ring leaders

Pictured from left is activist Jay Kirton, Cherrie Smith, Danny O'Brien outside Islington town hall

Pictured from left is activist Jay Kirton, Cherrie Smith, Danny O'Brien outside Islington town hall where they were collecting signatures for their anti-knife crime petition - Credit: Archant

A gang squad to crack down on violence will be launched by Islington Council in the wake of the killings of two teenagers in the borough this year.

The dedicated gangs team will aim to acquire intelligence about gang membership, track down adult recruiters leading children astray, disrupt gang organisation and persuade members to change their behaviour.

The unit – which will be made up of police, the young offenders service, probation service and children’s social work teams – is part of a new youth crime strategy set to be ushered in by the council’s executive on Thursday.

Other aspects of the strategy, which is born out of an alarming rise in youth violence across the borough, include keeping a close eye on youngsters with a history of offending and making sure children who are removed from schools for bad behaviour are not lured into crime by being grouped with other troubled youths.

Cllr Paul Convery, Islington Council’s executive member for community safety, said: “Like other parts of London Islington has seen a disturbing rise in youth crime in the last year. Horrifically, two teenagers have been killed this year, leaving our communities deeply traumatised and angry.

“Together with Islington police and the community we are committed to taking clear actions - including the new gangs team and tougher enforcement – to make Islington a safe borough for children and young people.”

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Under the new scheme, special powers will be used to confiscate belongings such as cycles and mopeds which are synonymous with youth crime in the borough.

All young people that come to the attention of police will be visited at their homes.

Schools will have an increased role, being urged to refer children they are concerned about while the council is also promising to include the community by making it easier to report crime.

Cllr Joe Caluori, Islington Council’s executive member for children and young people said: “We know a small minority of young people in Islington are involved in crime. It’s vital we not only change their behaviour, but help to stop a new generation getting involved.

“We will build on the good work of our Family Intervention Team to make sure it is available to more families, especially teenagers with less serious problems, so they are able to take early action. We will also make sure we have enough detached youth workers to respond in areas where children are being drawn into crime.”

The strategy comes after a shocking first half of 2015 in which teenage victims Alan Cartwright and Stefan Appleton were both stabbed in broad daylight on the borough’s streets.

Anti-knife crime campaigner Danny O’Brien, who set up his group Anti-Knife UK in 2008 after the death of Islington teen Ben Kinsella, said that while he welcomed the council’s efforts it was a shame it took these deaths to prompt them.

“It’s sad that it has took the death of two local teenagers before this has been brought in,” he said.

“Though I welcome it I see that once again local charities or groups have not been invited to take part and maybe

offer some sort of monthly workshop which could help with some of the issues in the borough.

“I can’t speak for the Ben Kinsella Trust but as a major knife crime charity maybe they could help as they are based

in Islington. I would be happy to offer any help, but as I am out of your borough then I would rather see a local charity or group be asked.”

You can read the Youth Crime Strategy report here.