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Gang advice for parents

PUBLISHED: 10:38 26 August 2010 | UPDATED: 11:57 16 September 2010

Police in Norfolk have published advice to parents on how to spot if their child is in a gang and explaining to young people the dangers of gang membership.

Police in Norfolk have published advice to parents on how to spot if their child is in a gang and explaining to young people the dangers of gang membership.

Officers stress that gangs are not a major threat in the county but the advice has been published on the force's website to address concerns that parents may have. It is also an attempt to take away the glamour of gang membership and highlight how youngsters can be sucked into crime.

Police work with Norfolk Children's Services, Norfolk Youth Offending Team as well as voluntary groups to help young people and stop gangs becoming a problem.

Supt Mike Fawcett said: “The information on our website about gangs and the law complements the advice given to students by the Safer Schools Partnerships who address issues around group culture, alcohol abuse, anti-social behaviour, shoplifting and bullying.

“The advice, which is also useful for parents, includes how to spot the common signs and behaviours of gangs.

“Whilst gang culture can be an issue in large cities and urban areas, it is not a significant problem in Norfolk and our safer neighbourhood teams continue to work with partners to address the concerns of residents who believe there may be a gang where they live.”

The advice says: “A gang is a group of people who may be involved in crime and violence. Many young people will not realise they are in a gang, they will just think they are in a group of friends.”

Although being a member of a gang is not illegal, it can lead to young people becoming involved in crime and violence.

There are laws to prevent the criminal activities often associated with gangs, including longer sentences for offenders who are gang members. Police can search anyone they suspect of carrying a weapon.

“Even with good parental support and despite our best efforts, our young can be easily attracted into dangerous friendship groups,” the guidance states.

“While it is important to recognise the negative elements of becoming involved in a gang, we must also see why our youngsters are attracted to join them in order to try to understand and ultimately deter them from becoming involved.”

Signs to look out for include gang symbols on schoolbooks, pencil cases, bags, posters and other possessions. Certain clothing colours are associated with specific gangs and hand signals can be used to show allegiance.

Other warning signs include a rise in truancy, sudden changes in friendship groups and possession of large sums of money or expensive items. Many gangs communicate on social networking sites and many youngsters are bullied into joining gangs.

In Norwich there are three main gangs which are known to police

and the problem came to the fore two years ago when the previous

chief constable, Ian McPherson, published a dossier highlighting the problem.

It came after 200 complaints from city centre residents about menacing groups were logged.

There were also reports that ambulance and fire crews had experienced intimidation and abuse while attempting to go about their duty

But officers took action to clamp down on the problem, including searching 65 youngsters suspected of carrying knives and other weapons over a six-week period.

This approach was combined with work with community groups to help divert young people away from crime.

For more information visit www.norfolk.police.uk

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