Rival gang members to meet at mediation sessions to stop violence in Croydon
Rival gang members are set to start mediation sessions to stop tensions spilling over into violence.
Croydon Council and police, who are working together under the Safer Croydon Partnership, want to bring gangs to the discussion table to diffuse tensions before rivalries worsen.
Last year Croydon officers, working with the Metropolitan Police’s anti-gang unit Trident, focused on cracking down on gangs within the borough.
Detective Superintendent Simon Messinger, who heads up the borough’s gang team, said the main crimes which are committed in connection with gangs, such as robbery and violent crimes have fallen.
Supt Messinger said the police and council are continuing to find news ways of preventing young people getting involved in gang culture.
Mediation is one such method the council and the police want to bring in as an early preventative measure.
The police are already in contact with siblings and parents of up and coming members to warn them and educate them on the dangers of getting into gangs.
Supt Messinger said: "We are trying to forsee risks such as a rivalry developing and we are trying to get things in place to stop it from growing."
Leslie Roberts, gangs manager at the Youth Offending Service, said the main aim is to nip any rivalries in the bud as soon as possible.
She said: "If there is some activity bubbling up between groups we want to go in to that early point and start to mediate where there is conflict.
Supt Messinger warned against any complacency in tackling Croydon’s gang culture and said every time they take out a top gang target there are people ready to step in their place.
He added: "It is like burglary. Burglary has been around before I was born and it will be going on after I am gone, and gangs is a similar issue. It is not going to go away, as much I would like to say it will be.
"We will not rest on our laurels, the message is we are here to support you but if you don’t want to join in then we will be coming after you."
A council docuement released last week outlined there are seven main gangs in Croydon, with members as young as 11 years old.
They are involved in crimes varying from money laundering and supplying guns to street robberies and sexual offences.
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