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Gangs target vulnerable kids with food and cash; Safety group fears gangs offer youngsters things they don't get at home.

Byline: JOE THOMAS Crime Reporter joe.thomas@trinitymirror.com @joe_thomas18

VULNERABLE children are being drawn into gangs through offers of food, cash and protection.

That is the fear of a safety group fighting the misery caused by gang culture across parts of Merseyside.

The organisation, led by police and council experts, believes a common tactic used to groom new members is to exploit them by offering something they are not provided with at home.

The group also suggests impressionable youngsters are introduced to criminality by older relatives and is working to counter the growing use of social media in gang rivalry.

The latest intelligence surrounding gangland activity on Merseyside was discussed by two agencies playing a key role in tackling youth criminality earlier this summer.

A report that went before the Sefton Safer Communities Partnership (SSCP) and Local Safeguarding Children Board (LSCB) highlighted the influence of family members in attracting younger relatives to gangs as a "significant concern".

It said: "Many young people report becoming involved in gangs due to experiencing older siblings, fathers or mothers being actively involved or associating with gangs.

"The risk is also prevalent to younger children who may not be at an age to actively become involved in the activity but are at risk due to their living situation and family members being involved in gangs.

com "This increases the potential risk of harm to these children both in their community and in their homes due to the risks associated with gang activity."

Sefton is an area that has been linked with a flurry of gang-related activity over the past year - with the south of the borough playing host to several high profile crimes, including shootings.

Chief among the gangs accused of peddling fear is Litherland mob the Kirkstone Riot Squad - which has been held responsible for the closure of a Waterloo bar and blamed for "scrambler bike mayhem".

Fayre Where youths are not enticed into gang activity by family members, those who live in "chaotic home environments" are also preyed upon. The report continued: "Gang members target vulnerable young people by offering them 'something' (i.e. food and money) that is absent in the home.

to value Fayre a good "The young people may see this person as someone who 'cares' as they are providing them with things that they do not get from their parents.

"This is just one process of recruiting young people into gangs by using grooming methods.

"Absent fathers and a lack of a positive male role model is also a significant risk factor. Older gang members present themselves to young people as offering 'guidance' and they fill the gap in this young person's life."

Fears surrounding the criminal exploitation of vulnerable children have been raised throughout 2017, with Merseyside Police warning that young people are coaxed into transporting weapons and drugs for gangs, often through fear.

The safeguarding board highlights the threat to children once involved in gangs - with gang related sexual exploitation a prominent concern.

Another growing issues is the use of social media as another platform for gang warfare: "The numerous social networks allow gang members and their associates the opportunity to declare 'cyber-war' on each other, providing a vehicle which fuels inter-gang rivalry."

The Sefton LSCB is actively working on e-safety programmes in local schools and colleges to help make children aware of the risks posed by criminal use of the internet.

That is one of a number of projects supported by the SSCP and LSCB to help the fightback against those gangs said to be active in the borough. More than 10 different agencies and charities are involved in efforts to prevent children from being drawn to gangs.

"Positive" activities are organised in areas suffering issues with anti-social behaviour while charity Catch 22 is commissioned to deliver targeted outreach work.

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Publication:Liverpool Echo (Liverpool, England)
Date:Aug 6, 2017
Words:652
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