Britain is now expected to look stateside for ideas on how to tackle criminal gangs.
The StreetSafe project in Boston is a model that seeks to bring down disproportionately high youth crime rates in neighbourhoods persistently affected by violence.
One of its workers, Alan Turner, believes connecting with the young is crucial to success: “The first thing they (people in London) can do is get to know the people. If you don’t get to know the people, you don’t know what’s going on in communities. Force is not going to do it.”
Britain’s prime minister has talked of giving the police new tough powers but such measures must be supported by other steps, according to Robert Lewis, Jr., StreetSafe’s vice President: “it’s not just a police problem, because the police can’t arrest their way out of it. The community, the civic community, the business community, schools and others where these young folks convene, have to sit and talks and collectively think about what is the next step.”
There has been a drop in the number of gang-related killings and violence in some areas since StreetSafe was set up a few years ago and, with the programme open to ex-criminals as well, its success at bringing people together may give hope to other cities plagued with similar problems.