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Wycombe gang crime crackdown is working says panel
GANG-RELATED activity in South Bucks is on the slide, according to a panel set up to tackle home-grown youth crime.
Gang Multi-Action Partnership, or G-MAP, was set up a year ago to identify gang members in Wycombe and the surrounding areas and refer them for intervention.
The monthly panel includes input from Thames Valley Police, Youth Offending Service (YOS), Bucks County Council’s Targeted Youth Service and Wycombe Youth Action.
Panel members insist the programme is working, with members from four identified gangs around Wycombe given mentoring, support and training.
And the success of the project has led Thames Valley Police to consider rolling it out throughout the force.
Panel co-chair Paul Bowen said: "The number of arrests has reduced for the young people in the programme and the intelligence about them being involved with gang crime has reduced.
“The evaluation of the results will be ongoing and soon we will be able to present more ways in which these interventions are helping.
“I’m really proud of where we are with this and I’m very passionate about G-MAP – it’s now firmly entrenched in the community and it’s here to stay.”
The panel identified four active gangs operating in South Bucks - three in Wycombe - which they have given names to help with identifying members.
They are the ‘Red Bandanas’, or the Castlefield Massive as they call themselves, the blue bandanas, the black bandanas operating in Totteridge and an emerging group from Marlow.
The task for the panel is to identify members involved, or at risk of becoming involved, in these gangs and monitor their progress during a personal intervention programme.
The programmes are co-ordinated through Wycombe Youth Action Group, Point to Point mentoring, and a joint service from the YOS and county council’s Targeted Youth Service.
Each community group gave a presentation on their progress during a briefing at Wycombe District Council office this week.
Case studies were presented s of gang members as young as 15 who had been mentored using cognitive behaviours therapies, practical skills sessions and guest speakers.
One 16-year-old boy on the program went from an expulsion from school and numerous convictions for robbery to enrolling in a construction course at Amersham and Wycombe College.
There is also an early warning scheme to educate and prevent younger children from joining gangs.
Speaking at the briefing, deputy police and crime commissioner for Thames Valley David Carroll praised the initiative, saying he is discussing with MPs about extending the scheme from Bucks to a wider area.
Colin Seaton, chief inspector for Wycombe Police, said: “It’s absolutely fantastic, it’s one of those things that we identified as being sorely needed.
“With our engagement with young people it became clear that there was gang activity going on.
“While it is clear that there is a priority to catch and convict with this type of crime, the issues really need a sustainable long term solution.
“The people running things at the coal face are key to it all. I’m very proud of what’s being achieved, they are doing great work.”
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