Reid praises 'crime-fighting' faith groups

Reid blames gangs on 'contagious violence'
Reid blames gangs on 'contagious violence'

Faith groups must be more involved in tackling the root causes of violent crime and anti-social behaviour, the home secretary John Reid said.

Speaking to faith leaders yesterday, Mr Reid praised their work on the "front lines" of communities affected by youth violence.

He said the government would continue to liaise with and support faith groups, claiming they offer an alternative to violence in deprived communities.

Faith communities have a good track-record of addressing anti-social behaviour in their communities, he said, pointing to the Safer Schools Partnership, Street Pastors and the Damilola Taylor Trust.


"The government will continue to support you in your efforts, because we all have a responsibility to ensure that young people understand the consequences of using guns and knives," Mr Reid told faith leaders.

"We've already done a lot. But together we, the government, police and faith leaders, can and must do more."

Following a spate of shootings and stabbings among young people in London, the home secretary launched a three stage initiative to reduce gun, knife and gang crime in February.

Engaging with faith and community groups was the third-prong, supporting increased police powers to tackle the root causes of youth violence.

Mr Reid identified two factors driving young people into gangs; a combination of fear and glamour.

The culture of violence has become contagious, he said, where gangs make people feel insecure, increasing the pressure on young people to join a gang.

Mr Reid continued: "The criminal underworld has been depicted as glamorous, and gangsters as celebrities.

"But as those of you affected by this lifestyle will know, it's anything but glamorous, and it is dangerous to portray it as such.

"It has always been built on fear, intimidation and violence."

The home secretary insisted you "cannot overstate" the importance of positive role models, including fathers, youth workers and church leaders.

"That's where faith groups come in, and they have been working tirelessly in recent years to provide an alternative to violence for youths," he said.

Mr Reid's comments echo a speech made by David Cameron to the Police Federation, in which he called on governments to tackle the underlying causes of crime, leaving the police free to detect it.

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