JAGS founder calls for more help to combat gang culture

Tracey Ford, the founder of the Croydon-based anti-violence body the JAGS Foundation, has welcomed a government report on the first year of its Ending Gang and Youth Violence (EGYV) initiative.

Gangs violence campaigner Tracey Ford: called for consistent funding

Gangs violence campaigner Tracey Ford: called for consistent funding

Speaking on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme last week, Ford said she applauded the initiative’s “frontline” approach, which helps local grassroots organisations such as JAGS to address serious levels of violence.

JAGS was set up in memory of Ford’s son James Andre Godfrey Smartt-Ford, who was killed in 2007 in a packed Streatham ice rink, in front of more than 300 people. No one has ever been arrested for this murder.

JAGS has been received a small grant towards its work from the government’s EGYV programme. Joining forces with Safer London and The Princes Trust, JAGS has trained mentors to support vulnerable young people on the periphery of gangs.

“There is already very clear indicators that the JAGS initiative has the potential to help young people turn their lives around,” Ford said.

“JAGS’s experience over several years demonstrates that prison is not the most effective measure to eradicate gang culture, as many of these young people return to their old communities on release and continue where they left off.”

But Ford has also called for consistency of funding for groups such as JAGS, to ensure their long-term effectiveness, warning against cuts being made to statutory services and voluntary groups. “Such services were already being reduced, due to government cuts in local funding,” she said.

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