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19 July 2012

Police and churches partner to tackle crime

Police and churches partner to tackle crime

Speaking to a conference organised by Faith in Britain and the Metropolitan Police Service Commissioner, Bernard Hogan Howe said: "There's no way that we can police this city alone, we have to do this with the people not to them."

The conference came just ahead of the first anniversary of the riots that brought scenes of violence, arson and looting to the streets of London, Manchester, and other parts of the UK.

He went on to provide details of the estimated 259 gangs in London and the 62 which are considered particularly dangerous and violent. Of all the crime in London, he explained, half of the shootings, 20 per cent of violence and robberies and 15 per cent of sexual attacks, were classified as gang crime.

The Commissioner concluded by saying: "It can't be just about enforcement, it has to be about diversion, encouraging people to live a better life."

The conference was also addressed by David Lammy, MP for Tottenham where last August's riots began. As well as speaking about the events of last summer he also delved into the longer term trends he believed had contributed to this problem. In particular, he focused his criticism on the effects of social and economic liberalism.

"The consequence of these two liberalisms" Lammy said "is that we are living in hyper individualist times and into which we have to intervene and into which the police have to police. We have created in our society a culture of entitlement."

Les Isaac, who's Ascension Trust has pioneered Street Pastors across the UK, challenged the church to act. "If my gospel is just for Sunday morning it is absolutely useless, if it is just for heaven then it is not to be talked about. It starts here on earth in a very practical way."

Mr Isaac was awarded an OBE in the Queen's birthday honours last month for his work fostering community cohesion. He called on the church, the police and the government to work together to tackle the problems of crime. He said: "We cannot be like Robinson Crusoe, operating our own project, doing our own thing. We have to get around the table. We cannot do everything ourselves."

The groups present were given practical ways in which the church can help by Commander Steve Rodhouse, who leads the Metropolitan Police's work to tackle gangs. He suggested that churches and other charitable organisations could play a key role in taking young people off the streets in the hours immediately after school when crime spikes.

The work that churches already do in providing youth clubs and homework clubs was particularly commended. The dual function of occupying young people and helping them develop skills, was recognised in preventing crime now and increasing the likelihood that young people would be able to get jobs in the future.

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