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News - 9 February 2012

Police gangbusters show how to cut violent crime by 60% in Hackney

Inspector Russ Joao heads a group of 11 officers in a unique collaboration with Hackney council and other officials to combat gangs. The initiative is the blueprint for the Met's new drive against gang culture. In the six months after its launch, gang violence fell by 59 per cent and reports of gang-related gun and knife crime were down by more than 60 per cent.

Scotland Yard estimates the capital now has more than 250 active gangs with a membership of about 4,800, mostly teenagers or young men.

Last year police seized 65 firearms and in the past two years 200 gang members have been jailed. The initiative has led to Hackney recording the biggest fall in serious youth violence of any London borough. The unit, called the Integrated Gangs Intervention Project, works by first offering gang members a way out of violence and crime and then - if they refuse - they are warned that they face relentless targeting and arrest. Mr Joao describes it as a kind of "lawful harassment", saying: "We go after them for whatever we can legally get them for. It's like a dog constantly snapping at their heels - because there is no other option."

Hackney has at least 23 known and active gangs, of which six to seven are considered high-risk and dangerous. The police unit has a list of 190 individuals who are the focus of work either to divert them from crime or harass them if they refuse to engage.

For the full story from The Evening Standard, click here.


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