Reduction in weapon incidents 'follows education focus' (From East London and West Essex Guardian Series)
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Children as young as ten are being taught dangers of gangs
Children as young as ten are being educated by police about the dangers of gangs after police discovered they are being used to carry drugs and weapons.
This year London Ambulance Service (LAS) has attended 40 incidents in which someone has been shot or stabbed in the borough.
Last year, it was 102.
Waltham Forest Police officers put the fall in the figures to anti-gang education programmes, among other initiatives.
PC Richard Graham, an engagement and projects officer, said: “We have to look at the difficulties and dangers facing children.
"There used to be a focus on stranger danger, but over the last few years we have focused on gangs.
“Often gang members will get a primary school child to hold a knife or drugs to avoid being caught by police.
“The children are introduced into gang life at a very early age.”
There are a number of projects being run aimed at getting Waltham Forest gang members away from their current lifestyle.
Pc Graham added: "Another example was the football game at [Leyton] Orient with gang members.
"We brought members from opposite gang members together and held training sessions with them."
“There is also the safe and secure project aimed at getting whole families out of the borough.
“You can’t just leave a gang they will hurt you and threaten your family.
“They have men and women that they call ‘generals’ who are basically the muscle to keep gang members in line.”
A Freedom of Information Act request submitted to LAS shows there has been weapon related incidents across the borough.
In Forest ward last year, there were 18.
PC Graham said: “We cannot afford to be complacent.
“There will be ebbs and waves for each area. Sometimes there will be two or three stabbings in quick succession because of a ‘beef’ or argument with one particular gang.
“We have to keep educating young people and trying to identify vulnerable children to keep them from going into gang life.”