Anti-Gang Groups See Cash Boost

Community groups tackling gangs and gun crime will be able to apply for a share of £500,000 government funding from today. Groups can apply for up to £5,000 each from the sixth round of the Connected Fund, which exists to combat gangs through educational, sporting and cultural activities.

The fund, designed to encourage children away from gangs, provide support for victims and mentor at risk individuals, has awarded £1.25 million since 2004. The latest wave of funding has been announced by the Home Office on the back of the prime minister’s summit on gun crime, which produced a three point plan for combating gang violence; policing, powers and prevention.

Home office minister Vernon Coaker said that firearms offences have already fallen by 14 per cent in the past year, but the government is committed to a further reduction.

He said: “This is the result of tough firearm legislation and effective education, but support for community groups is also a key part of our programme. Gun crime is small in volume but big in impact, as we have seen in recent weeks. Public protection is at the heart of Home Office priorities. We will continue to do all we can to improve community safety.”

Following the gun crime summit, the Liberal Democrats argued that community led projects, rather than more laws and tougher sentences, were needed to stem gang violence. “We need a community-centred approach to tackling the cycle of deprivation, drug culture and lack of recreational opportunities in inner cities,” said leader Sir Menzies Campbell.

He added: “By getting involved in sport young people gain confidence, respect and self-discipline. All of these qualities can help to stop the downward spiral towards a life of crime.”