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Backbench Business — Gangs and Serious Youth Violence

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 12:23 pm on 3rd March 2016.

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Photo of David Lammy David Lammy Labour, Tottenham 12:23 pm, 3rd March 2016

I notice that the Front-Bench Opposition spokesman is absolutely aware of that. She is ever so slightly older than me. At that time, there was real concern about gang activity in seaside areas or in urban areas of the country. The debate in this House about young people and crime and about gang activity is not new, so what is new? I think that the level of violence is new, the age profile is worrying and the geographic spread feels out of control.

On the age profile, the Met police says that its matrix—its central way of recording who is caught up in what it describes as gang activity—had a total of 3,459 individuals at the last time of publication in May 2014. There were 500 individuals under the age of 18: two 13-year-olds, 21 14-year-olds, 71 15-year-olds, 138 16-year-olds and 268 17-year-olds. There were also 356 18-year-olds, while 55% of the total were aged 18 to 22. Something is going on, and it is something we should be very worried about.

Any Members with significant housing estates will talk about the arrival in this country of a phenomenon, which we often associate with America, of young people—teenagers—running drug activity on behalf of older individuals.