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Glasgow gang members in violence summit

A £5m plan to tackle gangs in Glasgow’s East End will be unveiled by Scotland’s national Violence Reduction Unit today.

Under the US-inspired initiative, men who promise to give up their gang membership are given the chance to turn their lives around.

Peter Donnelly, Professor in Public Health Medicine at the University of St Andrews, will be evaluating the scheme.

Professor Donnelly explained, “The police now recognise gangland violence as a public health problem.”

CIRV – the Community Initiative to Reduce Violence – has been 18 months in the planning and is based on the Boston Ceasefire project which reduced violent crime in the US city by about 50% in two years during the 1990s.

The initiative works by treating the gang as a unit rather than as individuals and using the gang themselves to address their own behaviour.

With £1.6m over two years coming from the Scottish Government and a further £3.4m funding provided in services and in kind, the initiative brings together partners from justice, government, community safety services , housing, careers, education, social work, health and the community to tackle the long standing problem of gang violence in one of Glasgow’s hardest hit areas.

Following intelligence gathering, gang members are approached by CIRV street level workers with the offer of help to find an alternative to the gang lifestyle. They are then invited to voluntarily attend a self-referral session.

Groups of different gangs are brought in to attend a carefully scripted meeting (the self-referral session) where they are addressed by a senior police officer, an A&E consultant, members of their community and the parent of a victim, among others.

Over 150 gang members attended the first two self-referral sessions, held at Glasgow Sheriff’s Court. To date, some 63 have taken up the offer of help.

“Our message is clear,” said Detective Chief Inspector Andy McKay, who heads up the initiative for The Violence Reduction Unit (VRU), “the violence must stop.

“Young men involved in gangs are one of the most at risk groups in Glasgow and the corrosive effect of their behaviour on their communities is profound. We want to help these young men turn their lives around – we want them educated, we want them working and most of all we want them safe.”

Gang members are assured that they will all leave after the meeting, but that if any member of the gang commits an assault or murder, the whole group will be pursued.

Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill said, “The law needs to be enforced but it’s also time to try something new, something bold, and sort the problem at source. I believe this initiative can make a difference and that is why the Scottish Government has invested £1.6m to make the project a reality. If they need education – this can help them access it, if they need a job – it can provide support, if they need help to recover from substance misuse – it can make sure they get it.  But if the violence continues – they will be caught.  It will be a long road as there’s no quick solution – but CIRV will be an important part of that solution.  Violence is not inevitable – it is preventable.”

To read Professor Donnelly’s personal view visit the BMJ website: http://www.bmj.com/cgi/content/full/337/dec11_2/a2959

ENDS

NOTE TO EDITORS:

For further information on the Violence Reduction Unit contact:
Caroline Foulkes, Communications Manager, on 0141 532 5835 / 07918 706545 or caroline.foulkes@strathclyde.pnn.police.uk

The Communities Initiative to Reduce Violence (CIRV) was launched at The GESH (Greater Easterhouse Supporting Hands), 1 Redcastle Square, Garthamlock, Glasgow G33 5EG on Friday, December 12 at 9.30am.

Speaking at the event were DCS John Carnochan, Head of the Violence Reduction Unit, DCI Andy McKay, who manages the CIRV initiative, Strathclyde Chief Constable Steve House and Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill.

ENDS

Issued by the Press Office, University of St Andrews
Contact Fiona Armstrong, Press Officer on 01334 462530 / 462529, Mobile: 07730 415 015 or Email: fa12@st-andrews.ac.uk
Ref:  Violence reduction 12/12/08
View the latest University press releases at www.st-andrews.ac.uk

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