Glasgow: Pilot Scheme Bringing About Real Change In Gang Culture

15 Aug

Real Change Being Brought About In Gang Culture In Glasgow

Pilot Scheme Wins Over Glasgow Gangs

A pilot scheme in Glasgow specifically aimed at tackling gang culture is starting to bring about real change on the streets of some of the city’s most troubled areas.

The special programme, run by the Includem project, offers only serious hardcore gang members known to the police and criminal courts an alternative to more severe punishment by agreeing to take part in the two-year course, and its results appear to show it is working.

Those undergoing the gang taskforce rehabilitation programme are offered help and support 24 hours a day, seven days a week through a phone helpline which is staffed by trained care workers.

The 24 hour help line is also available for use by families of Glasgow gang members and is even used by local police officers who report to staff if known gang members on the project are involved in trouble.

Includem promises to never give up on the gang members unless they themselves choose to leave the project, but very few do.

Latest figures show that for those who have passed through the rehabilitation programme, the number of re-offenders has fallen by 47%; there was a fall of 60% in the numbers of young people who continued to misuse alcohol or drugs.

The biggest success of the programme is the 80% of young people taking part who chose to leave gang life and go on to improve their education or start training courses.

Scott Taylor, 16, is a former Glasgow gang member who has turned his back on violence. He first joined a gang when he was just 13 and went on to commit several violent crimes including possessing an offensive weapon and he has a long list of violent disorder offences.

He is well-known to the police and the court system but at his last court appearance last November he realised Includem was his last chance.

He told Sky News: “When you’re younger you just think it’s fun then as you get older you end up getting hit by bottles and bricks and then you start hitting people with bottles and bricks.

“You don’t think anything at the time, nothing’s going through your head. It’s all just fun and you feel like nothing’s going to happen to you.”

“But then when you are facing court you realise it’s not a game. I am no longer in a gang, they’re still all my friends but I’ve just told them I’m not doing violence or anything like that again and they say OK.”

Angela Morgan, Chief Executive, Includem , says the model which the project uses is tried and tested by setting down firm boundaries of acceptable behaviour, often a first time experience for those on the project. Then staff work closely with the young offenders to try and persuade them to make life changes.

She believes the 24-hour help and support is the reason why the Includem project is succeeding while other schemes fail. She also believes the model makes financial sense, with the course costing around £6,665 per person compared to the estimated £40,000 a year it costs to send someone to prison or secure care.

“We don’t give up on any of our young people,” she said.

“It’s not the cheapest service to deliver but it’s certainly cheaper than sending a young person to prison and we have demonstrated over a number of years that it does provide better outcomes and provides a better platform for young people to move into a healthier and much more productive adulthood.”

With some of the highest gang membership figures in the UK, Glasgow still has a very long way to solving its social problems. But at least the feeling across parts of the city is real changes are being made.

 

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