Laws to thwart Lancashire’s gangs

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Gangs who cause misery for residents in Preston and South Ribble could soon find their crimes thwarted by laws that give police powers to stop them associating with each other.

Gang injunctions – nicknamed ‘Gangbos’ - are set to be used for the first time in Lancashire as police press ahead with a project to prevent gang related crimes.

The measure, which came into force in February 2011 under the Policing and Crime Act, is designed to stop ‘gang related violence’ and specifies it must be related to a group that:

• consists of at least three people;

• uses a name, emblem or colour or any characteristic enabling “members” to be identified;

• is associated with a particular area.

Det Insp Warren Atkinson, of South police, said: “We are looking at ways of preventing gang crime as it is something the public have told us they are concerned about. Gangbos are in many ways similar to anti-social behaviour orders (ASBOs), but breaching them is a contempt of court, punishable by up to two years in prison.

“They can only last for up to two years, while ASBOs which can be for any length of time.”

Gangbos could be used to prevent the formation of groups like the now defunct Kingsfold Youth Defence (KYD) in Penwortham, which wore purple bandanas to identify themselves, or a group calling itself Marsh Lane Massive, which identified itself with a graffiti tag.

The orders are usually applied for when police have intelligence, but not strong enough evidence to justify a criminal prosecution, but they can also be considered when a court finds violent crime is gang related.

Despite the law having been in force since 2011, very few of the injunctions - around 100 - have been applied for nationally, and none are in Lancashire.

Prohibitions in Gangbos tend to centre on exclusion zones, and non-association - including non-association on social media sites.

They can also contain educational requirements to steer people away from gangs and into work or education, such as attending mentoring schemes.

The plan comes as Operation Nemesis, a new police team set up to thwart a potential rise in gang related crimes in Preston, Skelmersdale and surrounding areas, continues.