Birmingham & Black Country

Project to tackle gang culture in the West Midlands

An initiative aimed at tackling gang culture, gun and knife crime in the West Midlands has been launched.

The project aims to use education resources to deter young people from joining gangs and carrying weapons

It includes a film called My Life, My Choice, starring young actors from Birmingham.

Marcia Shakespeare, whose teenage daughter Letisha was killed in a shooting in Birmingham, took part in a police presentation at schools.

Her 17-year-old daughter and her friend Charlene Ellis were killed when a gun was fired from a car in Aston at a new year party in 2003.

Charlene Ellis (l) and Letisha Shakespeare
Charlene Ellis (left) and Letisha Shakespeare were shot in Aston

Mrs Shakespeare took part in a West Midlands Police presentation which the force said aimed to deglamorise the gun and knife-carrying culture.

She said that her daughter, who was not part of any gang, had not died in vain.

Mrs Shakespeare said: "And the change that she has made is that we are not going to put up with these kind of violent crimes and gang cultures.

"That is why I am out here, and many other victims, trying to put a stop and put things in place."

The initiative, run by Birmingham Reducing Gang Violence (BRGV), will also include online games to try to tackle the problem.

BRGV includes the police, city council, Birmingham Safer Partnership and community groups.

Ch Supt Chris McKeogh of West Midlands Police said the power of the film was that it did not "preach" to teenagers.

"Young people can make some choices really, really early on," he said.

"If they make the wrong choice, very quickly they can find themselves escalating from someone on the edge of gang activity to murdering someone, within a short space of time."

The project was launched at Star City's Vue Cinema.

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