No dogs, no congregating: Govt unveils anti-gang law

By Ian Dunt

Government plans to cut down on gangs in the wake of the summer riots could see youths banned from walking "aggressive dogs" or congregating in certain areas.

Young people could also be forced to stop wearing face coverings, as the Home Office explores Asbo-like gang injunctions.

The injunctions would allow police and local authorities to mark out those teenagers they believe are susceptible to gang culture and gang-related violence and tailoring the order to their concerns.

Breaching an injunction would result in a jail sentence of up to two years.

Children as young as 12 could be subject to the measures, which are being drawn up in a coordinated effort between the Home Office and the Department of Work and Pensions.

"When you get real impact on these gangs, it's when it's not just the police operating on their own, [it's] when they are operating with others, with the local authorities, with education, with health and with the probation service," home secretary Theresa May told Daybreak.

Reports suggest there is tension at the Ministry of Justice, with Ken Clarke opposing some of the measures being proposed.

The justice secretary is considerably more liberal than the home secretary. The reported friction follows a public spat between the two on the Human Rights Act during the Conservative party conference and last week's row over knife crime jail sentences for under-18s.

"Action on gangs is vital. But this government is making it harder not easier to take action against gangs by cutting 16,000 police officers and making 20% cuts to youth services," said shadow home secretary Yvette Cooper.

"Changing the law won't work unless there are properly funded partnerships in place to deliver the action we need."

The anti-gang initiative will see £10 million dedicated to youth violence in the 30 worst affected areas over the next year.