Young caught up in gang culture
Children as young as 10 are getting caught up in gang culture in Britain, Iain Duncan Smith has claimed.
In an interview with the Daily Mail, the Work and Pensions Secretary said there is a "growing gangs problem", which must be dealt with in order to tackle "social breakdown".
The Government plans to use US-style "shock therapy" to try to reverse the trend, he said.
A scheme to be unveiled by the Home Office and the Work and Pensions department this month will include controversial 'call-ins' for gang members who have not yet committed any crime, he told the newspaper.
They are taken into a courtroom where a judge warns them about potential penalties, and families of victims of gang-related violence describe their experiences.
Mr Duncan Smith said: "We have a growing gangs problem. There are between 100 and 200 gangs in London alone. They are getting younger and younger. It is down to about ten years old in some cases."
He added: "In an area dominated by gangs it's almost impossible to improve people's quality of life. So it is a critical element in tackling social breakdown."
This breakdown means there are fathers completely missing, he said, adding: "Constructive fatherhood has gone in many of these communities. Often for these boys a gang does provide a kind of structure, it gives a sense of belonging, it gives a perverse sense of purpose. And criminal activity sometimes gives them an income too.
"Mothers are struggling with poor education, very few skills, have had children early, often in their teens. If they are in relationships they're often violent, abusive ones.
"That's the picture we see in these areas - a value set that has completely collapsed."