A hardline US-style crackdown, under which every gang member will face punishment if one of their ranks commits a violent offence, was announced today by Boris Johnson in a bid to improve public safety.
Under the “Shield” scheme, known members will be told that each will suffer a civil or criminal sanction if any of their gang carries out an assault, stabbing or other serious crime.
The penalties will range from recall to prison, gang injunctions banning them from parts of the capital or mixing with their associates, mandatory employment training courses or ejection from social housing.
The offender who triggers action will be fast-tracked through the criminal justice system for swift sentencing.
Announcing the scheme, the Mayor said: “It is time we gave these gang members a clear ultimatum — the police know who you are and if anyone in the gang steps out of line then every member will face consequences.
“There is absolutely no place for violence in our city. Through Shield, we are redoubling our efforts to stamp out gang crime once and for all.”
Stephen Greenhalgh, the deputy mayor for policing and crime, said: “The police have made huge progress in tackling gangs and youth crime is down, but a minority continue to cause significant harm. Evidence shows that this ‘one rule for all’ approach cuts violence.”
The tough purge on gang members is modelled on “Group Violence Intervention” methods used in several US cities, including Boston, Chicago and Los Angeles, and will be piloted in three boroughs: Lambeth, Westminster and Haringey, each of which is affected by significant gang violence.
Any gang member who wants to reform will be offered assistance to help them escape their lifestyle, including the provision of “safe houses”.
Commander Neil Basu, the head of the Met’s Gangs and Organised Crime Command, said: “We will do everything we can within the criminal and civil law to bring all members of any targeted gang to justice. Gang members in London will know that if they commit crime there are consequences. But we will also provide a meaningful alternative for those who want to turn their lives around and exit a gang.”
Gangs are responsible for 40 per cent of shootings and 17 per cent of violent crime in London and Scotland Yard data also shows that there are 186 recognised gangs with 3,600 members.
Under the £200,000 scheme, which will be piloted for 12 months and expanded if successful, police and community leaders will “call in” members to warn them of the new approach.
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Gonna enjoy seeing how this pans out!