Article authored by Ben Hickey, aged 16. IARS volunteer for the Youth of Today Project.
On 31st January 2011, The Home Secretary announced a new initiative devised to tackle the escalating problem of gang-related violence. It is now possible for police and local councils to administer individuals suspected of involvement in serious gang violence with a gang injunction, otherwise known as a ‘gangbo’.
The injunctions have been designed to work in two ways. Firstly, they are intended to act as a preventative measure against gang violence by imposing various limitations on specific individuals such as banning people from certain areas and prohibiting people from wearing ‘gang colours’. Someone who breaches such an injunction can expect to be dealt with by the criminal justice system and could face up to two years in prison.
Although gang injunctions are only currently applicable to those aged 18 years and over, a pilot scheme devised to justify the expansion of the age range to people as young as 14 is in progress. The overriding fear is that these measures will not target the problem of gang related violence effectively. This is a particular concern since the exact definition of a gang and the roles people play within them remain undefined by the justice system. These injunctions may also in fact fast-track young people into the Criminal Justice System. Such an effect appears counter to aims set out in the Government's Green Paper: Breaking the Cycle, which seeks to prevent reoffending and reductions in the number of ex-offenders returnng to prison.
IARS will be submitting a response to the Breaking the Cycle Green Paper based on evidence gathered from focus groups with young people who are engaged with our Youth of Today Project and our Big Lottery Fund Project.