Monday, October 01, 2012
UP TO 100 young people with links to gangs in Croydon are on the radar of both the police and the council.
The Advertiser was this week told of the scale of the work being carried out by our agencies, which has even involved some entire families being moved out of the borough, to protect them from being caught up in gang culture.
Former gang leader Justin Rollins believes the gang problem is out of control across London
It has been revealed that the council and police are "engaging" with dozens of youngsters – giving an insight into the huge amount of work faced in tackling the problem.
They range from those at risk of joining gangs, to others who have left and still need support, to hardened members.
Andy Opie, head of community safety at Croydon Council, said: "A number would be on the periphery and they would be a target for some of our early intervention. Help is there if they want it."
The work ranges from one-to-one mentoring to finding young people a school place or getting them into positive activities, such as sport or music.
In an extreme handful of cases each year – if they are in danger – Croydon Council has helped to move families out of the borough.
Meanwhile, former gang leader Justin Rollins, 28, believes the gang problem remains out of control across London.
Mr Rollins, who grew up in Carshalton, said: "I'm not involved in it now, but you hear the stories that come out of Croydon, highlighted from the riots. There are probably four main gangs in Croydon; then you have the spin-offs."
Mr Rollins has 17 convictions for robbery, grievous bodily harm, possession of an offensive weapon and possession of an imitation firearm, and has served four jail terms. He formed the gang WZ, short for Warriors, but has since turned his life around.
This culminated in him writing the first in a series of books about his experiences, called The Lost Boyz: A Dark Side Of Graffiti.
His second title, an eBook called My Crazy Days As A Young Offender, has just been released.
Mr Rollins, who is also an urban artist, said: "Writing a book about my experiences has been like therapy."
And in a message to gang members, he added: "I would tell them it's not a glamorous life like you see in films or on the music videos. It's a horrible, brutal reality – there's more to life."