Politicians are “working hard” with the police in the wake of a report which highlights the growing complexity of gang culture and the number of children being groomed by gangs.

Redbridge Council leader Cllr Jas Athwal, Wes Streeting MP for Ilford North and Mike Gapes MP for Ilford South have spent the last few months refining the council’s gang policy and developing ideas to tackle the problem.

This comes after a report by the National Crime Agency was released in March, showing six children in Redbridge were referred to police for involvement in serious crime in 2017.

Now, the council is working to increase the number of support systems in place to help those affected by gang culture and protect vulnerable young people.

More specialist safeguarding officers have been deployed across the borough to identify vulnerable young people and offer them education and support, encouraging them to move away from gangs.

The authority is also coming down hard on those carrying or using weapons and is working to target known gang members.

Wes Streeting, MP for Ilford North, said: “We’ve been fortunate to have avoided the gang problems associated with many other London boroughs, but there is no room for complacency.

“We’ve seen a number of knife and gun crimes linked to gang activity and concern about gangs is something that young people raise with me on school visits.

“I’m particularly concerned about the number of ‘county lines’ cases, where young people are effectively groomed by criminal gangs to run drugs around the country. They use cash as the lure and young people find themselves in over their heads around dangerous people at great risk to themselves.

“Just last week I convened a meeting with the council involving key services, the Police and Mike Gapes, MP for Ilford South, to look at what more we can do to prevent young people from being groomed, to support their devastated parents and to bring organised criminal networks to their knees.

“This is a big challenge and I worry that cuts to police budgets and stretched local authorities make our job even harder.”

Council leader, Cllr Jas Athwal, said: “We are working hard with the police and other partners to improve the early identification of gang affected individuals by adding an officer into the boroughs Multi Agency Safeguarding Hub to manage referrals and to increase the levels of specialist support and supervision they are given to help them understand the dangers of getting involved with a gang.

“We are also working innovatively to tackle gang violence and have recently embedded specialist gang officer from a third sector provider to increase the independent support for vulnerable young people. All of this is in addition to the significant work to prevent weapons being carried and to target and enforce against known gang members. This is part of my administration’s commitment to tackle crime and antisocial behaviour in the borough, and make our streets safer.”