Government cash injection to fight drug gang menace in East Anglia

Essex Police, Fire and Crime Commissioner, Roger Hirst Picture ARCHANT

Essex Police, Fire and Crime Commissioner, Roger Hirst Picture ARCHANT - Credit: Archant

The Home Office has announced hundreds of thousands of pounds for Essex and Suffolk crime prevention schemes to keep young people from being exploited by ‘county lines’ gangs.

Suffolk Police and Crime Commissioner, Tim Passmore , was pleased to see governemnt investment in pr

Suffolk Police and Crime Commissioner, Tim Passmore , was pleased to see governemnt investment in protecting youths. Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN - Credit: Archant

Home Secretary Sajid Javid announced 29 projects endorsed by Police and Crime Commissioners (PCCs) in England and Wales will receive cash totalling £17.7 million over two years.

The money will go towards initiatives that aim to divert children and young people at an early stage away from a life of crime and violence.

Essex Police will be given £664,000 to fight serious violence, youth exploitation and drug gangs affecting the county and surrounding rural areas.

Andy Prophet, assistant chief constable for local policing and public protection at Essex Police, said: “Early intervention is a powerful tool to make communities safer and this fund will strengthen local partnerships and fund the work that stops crime, reduces harm and saves lives.

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“In tackling some of the pathways that lead to people becoming violent we can make a big difference, and one of our biggest jobs will be to get help to people who are both violent but also extremely vulnerable and in danger.”

Suffolk PCC Tim Passmore and Roger Hirst, police, fire and crime commissioner for Essex, were both pleased to see that the funding was being offered by the government in a bid to tackle gang violence and the associated crime.

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Ministers have come under intense pressure over efforts to tackle spiralling levels of violent crime fuelled by drugs gangs in big cities targeting country towns and villages.

In the Serious Violence Strategy, set out by the government in April, there were specific plans to prevent vulnerable children being abused by gangs, such as the introduction of an Early Intervention Youth Fund.

Announcing the recipients, Mr Javid said: “As well as taking immediate action to curb knife crime, we need a longer-term approach to prevent our young people from getting drawn into a life of crime in the first place.

“That is why early intervention - alongside tough law enforcement - is at the heart of our Serious Violence Strategy.

Measures used by the chosen projects include mentoring, support for families and steps to guide youngsters into employment or education.

Efforts to combat the influence of so-called ‘county lines’ gangs are part of the remit of a number of the selected schemes.

Ten of the projects chosen for the fund are London-based.

Others are in the PCC areas of Norfolk, Sussex, Avon and Somerset, Merseyside, Essex, Humberside, West Midlands, Northamptonshire, Suffolk, Greater Manchester, Cleveland, Devon & Cornwall, Northumbria, Hampshire, Thames Valley, South Yorkshire and West Yorkshire.

A combined all-Wales bid was also successful.

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