A £2 million package of measures to tackle gangs and violence in Birmingham, including the roll out of police cadet forces, will be unveiled today.
The West Midlands Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC) David Jamieson will also publish a detailed report into Birmingham gangs, including proposals to deal with the growing problem.
The measures to be introduced include:
• bringing in expert negotiators to arrange ceasefires and peace deals between rival gangs
• a mentoring scheme to guide youngsters at risk of offending
• more support for ex-offenders to find work and make a fresh law-abiding start after prison
• alternative activities for young teenagers at risk of school exclusion or offending such as the police cadets
The report is the work of the Birmingham Gangs and Violence Commission, set up by the PCC, which has spent two years gathering evidence before compiling the report.
Mr Jamieson said that as well as police, social workers, probation officers and schools, the commission had taken evidence from ex-offenders and families and communities blighted by violence.
He said: “One thing which struck me was the helplessness of some mothers whose teenage boys are getting more difficult. More than they can cope with,” he said.
“They feel disempowered, they need support.”
He said that a lot of activity would be focused on young boys aged about 13 who are on the brink of joining gangs.
“The vast majority of young people are good children who work hard at school and do what their parents tell them. But there is a significant minority who perhaps are being excluded from school, playing truant and the only male role model may be a drug dealer on the street.”
He said that he hopes to recruit mentors who, from similar backgrounds, have been successful in life as better role models. And has started guiding youngsters into police cadet groups – “providing a new gang” for them. Already 70 have joined groups in Aston and Smethwick and there are plans to launch more.
Mr Jamieson added: “In years gone by we’ve made big strides in reducing violence on our streets, only to see some of those improvements slip away in recent years. As a society we must treat this issue with the consistency that we do terrorism or child safeguarding.
“This means our response must not cease once the current spike in violent crime is under control. Lessons from the last 15 years show us, that it is once we let up that problems return. We must tackle the causes of violent crime 365 days a year.”
In 2012 the number of gun crime incidents in the West Midlands stood at 459, but by 2016 that number had risen to 584. At 19 per 100,000 people, the West Midlands has a relatively high prevalence of gun crime.
Knife crime in the West Midlands has also risen in recent years from a low in 2012. In 2012 there were 1,566 knife crime incidents. By 2016 that number had risen to 2,296.
Bishop Derek Webley, who chaired the Gangs and Violence Commission, said: “After what appeared to be a sustained period of calm, a rise in the number of gang and knife related incidents had altered that trend in a way that became quite disconcerting.
“Tackling this problem isn’t easy. “I am sure that, by drawing on that collective wisdom, we can find a number of solutions going forward that will make our city and region a safer place to live, work and socialise.”