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Glasgow City Council

Different approach to tackling gang-related anti-social behaviour sees drastic drop in crime in Gorbals

The scheme has been so effective in reducing crime in one area of the city that the programme is now being used elsewhere. Initially run in 2014 it has now also been used in Castlemilk to stop problems with neighbouring gangs from South Lanarkshire and more recently in Govan.

Operation Modulus, taken from Police Scotland's operational name for their work in this community, involved developing a different way of dealing with the serious problem of violence, crime and anti-social behaviour cause by one gang in Gorbals.

A chance discussion between a police officer and firefighter about a particularly troublesome gang in the south of the city led to new thinking about how to tackle the problems they were causing in the community.

It had become clear to Police Scotland and a number of city partners that a gang of 11 male youths, aged 15-18, had become a huge drain on resources and were resistant to any guidance or support. In particular, the police were spending increasing amounts of time dealing with them, their crimes, their families and their victims.

Led by the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service, a multi-agency meeting with community planning partners including several areas within Glasgow City Council, a housing association and those with a remit for dealing with offending, criminal justice and employability met to discuss the gang - who were persistent reoffenders and well known to most of them.

It is the first time that a multiagency group had been established to specifically target individuals, addressing their precise needs and giving them information to make positive choices and break the cycle of negative behaviours, while working in conjunction with each other and consulting the young men themselves.
Never in the past had collaborative work been undertaken on this scale where there was increased information and resource sharing, and focusing on a common goal of improving the lives of these young men and the wider community.

Paul Blackwood, from Scottish Fire and Rescue Service, who led the programme, said: "Yes, we helped six young men, but the biggest achievement for me was changing the way in which the community planning partners worked and interacted with each other. It raised awareness of what the partners can do, what their capabilities and capacities were, and new relationships were forged as a result of this pilot.

"Working together maximised the opportunity to concentrate our efforts on this group and in the process benefit them and the local community."

It was unusual for Scottish Fire and Rescue Service to take the lead in a project dealing with anti-social behaviour, but that possibly worked to in the project's favour. Although initially suspicious, the young men were more accepting of a visit and chat from a firefighter than from a police officer or a social worker turning up at their door.

The main thrust of the programme was to provide the necessary support, education and training to develop the young people to be capable of taking up apprenticeship opportunities.

Early on, partners realised that they had to deal with the members as individuals rather than a group because their backgrounds, family situations needs and capabilities varied from person to person. Having agreed to volunteer for the programme every effort was made to get them through the programme.

Keeping the boys engaged and interested was a challenge but appointing individuals with mentors from Jobs and Business Glasgow and Community Safety Glasgow helped overcome this.

The gang leaders were also targeted and signed up first to cause a ripple effect to other members. Unintentionally, other young people, not in the gang, but acquaintances of the members, began interacting with agencies independently of the programme.

Six of the 11 gang members signed up to the four-week programme aimed at building confidence, interpersonal and employability skills. It included taster sessions in trades with companies such as City Building and gaining practical experience with Scottish Fire and Rescue Service including First Aid training.

They also undertook sessions on alcohol awareness, impact and consequences of their crimes and behaviour on victims and giving them information and tools to make realistic choices about breaking the pattern of behaviour and achieve personal goals.

In addition the young men, who had little English and maths skills and no experience of applying or gaining employment, were helped with their CV and given mock interviews. They also worked incredibly hard to gain their CSCF card, to show they have the skills required to work well in a trade and the Health and Safety knowledge needed to work safely in construction, and CIBT card demonstrating an understanding of constriction based maths.

Being put up for interview with sceptical employers, against peers with good academic qualifications, the boys' determination and commitment shone through. Four went on to secure employment in construction and manual labour sectors with, with two going on to further training and receiving additional support to get into employment.

Councillor Soryia Siddique, Glasgow City Council's Executive Member for Citizens and Communities and Chair of Glasgow Community Planning Partnership, said: "Operation Modulus as it has become known is quite rightly being held up in Glasgow and now nationally as an example of how agencies in the city can work together, at a local level, to specifically address issues in a community.

"They targeted individuals with tailored programmes that made better use of time and services' resources to improve not only the lives of six young men and probably their families, but also the community as a whole.

"The results speak for themselves: a reduction in crime, reduction in tenancy complaints, positive outcomes for the individuals, and improvements in the way agencies work together towards a common goal.

"This can now benefit the wider city as we replicate what was done here in other areas and of course it helps our economy to when we can support people into training and employment."

Glasgow Community Planning Partnership brings together key public private, community and voluntary representatives to deliver better more joined-up public services for Glasgow's residents. It aims to improve lives and communities by working together at a local level with local people to do this and focus on shared priorities and goals.


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