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5 December 2018
GANG kingpins who exploit children to sell their drugs can expect to be turfed out of their council homes.
Supt Adrian Burt said the police and the borough council will be working together to take stronger action against the Swindon-based gang leaders. His message to those responsible for a growing youth gang culture in hotspots like Pinehurst, Penhill and Parks was “enough is enough”.
The senior officer’s comments followed the revelation that Swindon police were looking at gang injunctions designed to stop the groups congregating, amid a clampdown on the groups responsible for anti-social behaviour, drug dealing and violence.
While Swindon has not experienced the violent inter-gang rivalries of London or other towns, recent months have seen young people attacking each other with machetes in north Swindon. Police chiefs have responded with a series of drug raids and ordering extra patrols.
Supt Burt said Wiltshire Police was working closely with Swindon Borough Council’s housing department. Gang leaders living in council houses could find themselves evicted from their homes. Council officers joined police on a raid on a Beech Avenue council house last week.
“People need to understand the impact that involvement in these gangs could have. It’s not just the consequences of going through the criminal justice system,” said Supt Burt.
“The impact could be far greater. Those responsible could lose their homes, their employment and income. The impact could be far reaching, It could affect their entire families.”
While police have promised to take a stronger line against the gang leaders, they also say more is being invested in early intervention programmes aimed at diverting youngsters away from a life of crime.
Two early-intervention officers based at Gablecross Police Station work full-time supporting young people.
“Enough’s enough if you’re committing crime,” said the superintendent. “But it’s not just a case of enforcement. We are investing to prevent the criminal exploitation of young people and how we can, in partnership with other agencies, intervene and support the young people and their families.”
Last week, Cathy Martyn, Swindon Borough Council’s cabinet member for housing, praised the close working between council officers and police during a raid on a Pinehurst house suspected of being at the heart of anti-social behaviour.
She said: “We will now look to take appropriate action against the tenant and we hope that everyone in the community will take note that this kind of disruptive and distressing activity will not be tolerated. We cannot allow a small minority of people to ruin the quality of life for everyone else in our communities.”
Have you been affected by the youth gangs? Call the newsdesk on 01793 501806.