Bromford Group said that homophobia is one of the problem areas within ‘gang culture’.
“Homophobia is prevalent amongst gangs,” Bromford’s gang specialist, Anna Gillespie, told UK Gay News.
“Insults, bullying and physical violence are rife amongst gang members towards the gay community.
“It is our sincere hope that in tackling the wider issues of gang culture, the government also address the impact and effects on others such as the gay community,” she added.
Bromford are offering support to many young people that are affected by the impact of gangs on their lives – and to those that are, or have been, in gangs.
“Every day we witness the problems that gangs cause in their communities,” Bromford CEO Mick Kent explained.
“Girls may be sexually exploited by gangs, families threatened, young people forced into joining gangs they would rather not join, communities destroyed.
“We wait with interest, the proposals of the joint working party led by the home secretary Theresa May and the work and pensions secretary Iain Duncan Smith.
“And we welcome that there is likely to be a separate working party established to investigate the impact of girl gangs, but urge caution in how they address the issue,” he continued.
“Despite convictions suggesting that gangs did not play as strong a part in [the summer] riots, the impact of gangs on society is worsening.
“The type of intervention required must be productive and offer young people another option” he insisted.
Mr. Kent suggested that young people needed to be “empowered” to resist any attempt to make them join a gang.
“Part of that is through supporting families so that gangs are not allowed to be seen as the alternative to the loyalties, discipline and stability normally found in the family nucleus.”
Ms. Gillespie, who has worked extensively with young people whose lives have been effected either by gangs or being in a gang, added: “We would really welcome a specific approach and response to address the growing issue of girls involvement in gangs.
“Girls are also direct victims of gang violence, particularly sexual exploitation and domestic violence.
“They are also used as a criminal ‘resource’ in honeytrap scenarios and in hiding gang activity & possessions,” she pointed out.
“In addition girls involved in street gangs are becoming more violent and are increasing their criminal activity.
“We must act to stop this cycle continuing,” she explained. “We must use early interventions, targeting support and programmes to divert young women away from this life.
“We need to introduce girls caught in this position to a different world view and expose them to successful, strong, confident women. The success of these women may either be in business or in terms of life skills – the positivity and vision to achieve must be the key message.”
Last month, Bromford launched No Postcodes – a young people against gang culture campaign supported by aYouTube video and launch event.
An explosive start to the campaign saw chart topping music stars, Premiership and international footballers unite with young people to call for an end to gang culture in the UK.
Managing director, John Wade, is enthusiastic about the young people Bromford Support have been working with: “No Postcodes is a prime example of the positivity that can result when young people are empowered to break the trend of their circumstances.
“Any working group must toe a very careful line. In addressing the issues of gangs the government must ensure that we do not increase the badge of honour that being in a gang can sometimes carry.
“It was a concern of some that Anti-Social Behaviour Orders provided that and, if so, we would be keen not to see that lesson has been learned.
“We hope that the working group will work to understand why gangs exist in the first place, not see young people in gangs as the issue but rather as the result,” he concluded.