Strathclyde Police praised as gang scheme cuts offending in half

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by a Newsnet reporter

Strathclyde Police have been praised after a pilot project involving teenage gang members in Glasgow resulted in a dramatic 50 per cent reduction in offending.

The experimental Scottish scheme, Community Initiative to Reduce Violence (CIRV), saw the police refer young gang members directly for intensive support from a local charity.

The results were published in an evaluation report carried out by the charity Includem, a national voluntary organisation that supports some of Scotland’s most vulnerable, high risk and challenging young people.

Chief Inspector Robert Stevenson, of Strathclyde Police, said the charity’s involvement was a vital part of the force’s work to tackle gang violence.

He said: “I see them as being fundamental to the success of what it is we are trying to do.  The teenagers they work with are the extremely violent offenders of tomorrow.” He added: “Includem’s intensive support service is a crucial part of CIRV’s future strategy.”

Includem followed 23 young people who completed the programme and found they were charged with 47% fewer offences in the six months after leaving the scheme.  The scheme costs £6,656 per offender which is significantly lower than the £40,000 required to send the individual to prison.

The report also found a significant reduction in the use of drugs and alcohol, down 60%, and an increase of 80% in participation in education or training.

The results were hailed by Glasgow Kelvin MSP Sandra White who praised the work by Strathclyde police.

Ms White said:

“Strathclyde Police are showing the way with this scheme which has achieved an enormous amount in a short period of time.  Events in England over the last week underline the importance of projects like this and I am certain other forces will now be looking to learn from what is being achieved by Includem.”

Ms White pointed to the SNP’s investment in 1000 extra police officers and said that despite Scotland crime rate being at its lowest for 32 years that there would be no complacency.

She added:

“However, with the evidence that putting more police on the streets has helped to cut crime it is clear that the Scottish Government is right to prioritise maintaining those additional officers, and take action to tackle the booze and blade culture and expand the cashback for communities scheme to ensure more of the money from crime goes to support our communities.”

Strathclyde Police’s success in dealing with gang culture was this week praised by UK Prime Minister David Cameron.