At least seven gangs, involving just 34 individuals, are believed to be responsible for crimes including drug supply, domestic abuse, robbery and child sexual exoploitation across Milton Keynes.
Milton Keynes Council’s social care staff and the city’s Milton Keynes Multi Agency Safeguarding Hub (MASH) have researched 451 individuals, identifying over 1,800 links between them to come up with the numbers.
The research also identified 27 young people who are believd to be highly likely of involvement in gangs, including 21 youths under the age of 15 who are “worthy of early intervention.”
Research reported to the SaferMK Partnership on January 31 pointed to some linking factors.
The partnership includes representatives of the police, the fire service and Milton Keynes Council. The report read: “Of the 34 individuals, 25 had been subject to Youth Offending Team (YOT) intervention at some point.
“Of these 92 per cent had significant speech, language and communication needs. The needs had not previously been identified within an education setting prior to the young people working with the YOT.”
With the report adding that “Designated safeguarding leads for secondary schools report escalated issues in respect of violence and gangs across MK.”
The partnership carried out the The SaferMK Crime and Disorder survey at the turn of the new year, finding that 83 per cent of 1,233 people surveyed saying they were aware of gangs, and 73 per cent believed gangs were a concern in Milton Keynes.
SaferMK has come up with a plan of action to get to grips with the situation on the streets. This involves intervening directly with 34 young people in the short term.
In the medium term the partnership wants to develop an understanding of the gangs challenge in Milton Keynes that “informs current challenges and future success.”
It also wants to improve interagency information sharing information in relation to potential gang membership and perpetrators of exploitation and to implement and embed early intervention referral routes and support agencies to identify children at risk of exploitation at an early stage in order
to provide multi-agency early intervention.
The committee also says that so far there has been a “lack of integrated intervention in respect of the 34 individuals, with stakeholders working in isolation.”
Cllr Hannah O’Neill, the council’s deputy leader and cabinet member for health and wellbeing, said work was ongoing and there has already been “some great outcomes”.
She added: “Milton Keynes Community Safety Partnership is working to address the challenge presented nationally and locally in respect of violence and those drawn into any form of gang activity.
“It is recognised that those involved in such activities may be vulnerable and therefore an approach is being developed to address this challenge. Further discussions are scheduled to progress this recommendation.”