Jacqui Smith lifts lid on gangs in BBC WM documentary

we've got to step in to stop these groups descending into the spiral of gang violence that's fuelled by a toxic mix of pride, fear and angerJacqui Smith
Date: 20.10.2011     Last updated: 18.03.2014 at 18.11
Category: English Regions
Former Home Secretary Jacqui Smith's new documentary on gangs for BBC WM reveals that 45 urban street gangs have been identified by police in Birmingham.

In the documentary, Jacqui Smith On The Gangs Of Birmingham, Ms Smith also learns that West Midlands Police are setting up a new task force with more than 20 dedicated officers to tackle urban street gangs.

The former Redditch MP has been investigating gangs for the half-hour documentary, aired on BBC WM 95.6FM on Thursday 20 October at 9.30am.

She also speaks to former gang members, including a young man from Birmingham who was stabbed by his own gang when he tried to leave.

She said: "I thought it was possible to stop people getting into gangs but this programme has made me realise that young people will always look to each other for support and friendship.

"But we've got to step in to stop these groups descending into the spiral of gang violence that's fuelled by a toxic mix of pride, fear and anger."

During the documentary Ms Smith also talks to Marcia Shakespeare, whose daughter Letitia was killed in a gang shooting in Birmingham in 2003, and former police officer Kirk Dawes, who runs the city's Centre for Conflict Transformation.

Ms Smith also learns from Birmingham outreach workers Lloyd Robinson and Terence Wallen about the work done with youths, as well as talking to Birmingham City University criminologist Martin Glynn about why people join gangs.

She added: "There must be more focus on providing a safe route out of gang lifestyle. This isn't just a job for the police; Birmingham has shown the way in building strong partnerships against gang violence, and at the heart are the local people who are still living with gang violence once the professionals have gone home."

The BBC WM documentary comes ahead of a new strategy to tackle gang violence that is expected to be published by the Coalition Government later this month.

SF