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Backbench Business — Gangs and Serious Youth Violence

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 1:18 pm on 3rd March 2016.

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Photo of Angela Crawley Angela Crawley Shadow SNP Spokesperson (Equalities, Women and Children) 1:18 pm, 3rd March 2016

There are a number of projects, but this particular one focused on bringing the young people in, engaging them and providing them with opportunities to go on to further education or training. They continued to be supported throughout that process so that they could reach sustainable employment and other routes outwith the confines of the environment in which they had grown up and themselves experienced violence or been party to it.

This Government must recognise that where legislation is proving ineffective, they must consider changing course. Lessons must be learned from where we have been successful. I share the sentiments of the hon. Member for Streatham that young people have been given a bad name in this discussion and that more often than not we tarnish them with this reputation that makes them the perpetrators, without seeking to address the root causes of the problem, which many Members of all parties have addressed in their speeches.

I have listened to Members who have spoken of their constituents’ experience of violence and its impact on their lives, and of heart-breaking accounts from loved ones of lost years and lost lives. The hon. Member for Streatham spoke about the level of violence in London, but as has been repeated in the debate, the problem is not unique to one particular area or one particular city, so we must do more to address the problem as a matter of policy. Factors such as poverty, violence and drugs, and the rising incidence of violence against women in ghettos must be looked at in a far more holistic way to address some of those root problems.

Let me acknowledge that it was only 10 years ago, as I mentioned earlier, that Glasgow was named the murder capital of western Europe—something that the then Scottish Executive could not ignore. Despite the number of convictions, there remained a need to tackle the root of these serious problems. Scotland has been successful in reducing the number of incidents. The campaign, “No Knives Better Lives” raises awareness and seeks to educate young people about the consequences of knife crime. This is one example of a measure that has contributed to success in reducing violence.

In my constituency in south Lanarkshire, a local community group established a drama workshop known as “The Street”, which has a real-life setting. It is produced by young people, many of whom have been involved in violence themselves, and it tackles issues of violence, knife crime and drug and alcohol abuse, as well as sexual violence. This message can be delivered by young people to young people in a hard-hitting way with a powerful impact, addressing the serious ramifications and consequences of actions occurring on a daily basis on the streets.

Under the stewardship of the former Scottish Justice Secretary, Kenny MacAskill, we focused on early intervention, improving life chances and the integration of the police within the community, working with young people. This resulted in a significant reduction of crime and violence. Let me declare that the incidence of violence continues on a daily basis, but we must continue to tackle these issues, which I hope the Government will take into consideration.