Gang members face new ‘tough love’ crackdown

BOSSES behind a new anti-gang strategy in Bulwell say they are focussing on the ‘grassroots’ of the problem in the wake of recent rioting.

Under the citywide ‘tough love’ approach, young gang members and those at risk of falling into gang membership would be identified and given a chance of a different path, said Peter Moyes, executive director for the Nottingham Crime and Drugs Partnership.

But should they fail to take up offers of training or education, they would be dealt with by the full extent of the law.

“The first thing we need to do is identify those most at risk, and make it clear there are other options open to them,” said Mr Moyes. “It‘s a ‘tough love’ approach.”

The problem of gangs was thrown back into the spotlight by riots across the country two weeks ago. Nottingham was one of the worst-hit areas, alongside London and Manchester, and there were reports of vandalism in Bulwell.

It is believed that between 200 and 400 young people living in Nottingham are in gangs or at risk of joining one.

Mr Moyes said the multi-agency partnership was focussing on tackling lower-level criminals — from schoolchildren involved in anti-social behaviour to more organised groups behind street robberies and drug running.

But the goal was not to eradicate gang membership completely.

“We are not saying that because you are in a gang, you are involved in criminal activity,” added Mr Moyes. “But we are looking at ways to target those people who have a negative impact upon the lives of other people.”

Bulwell’s Labour MP Graham Allen said meeting the emotional and social needs of children in their early years was vital in steering them away from gang membership and the sort of behaviour seen during the riots.

“I fully support the use of hard-hitting punishments for those who are involved in the sort of activity we saw two weeks ago,” said Mr Allen. “But those methods will not deal with the problem in the long term.

“I am very pleased to see the Nottingham Crime and Drugs Partnership is taking up the early-intervention approach, which was pioneered in Nottingham.”