GANGS, serious violence, modern slavery, human trafficking and drugs are all to be tackled as part of a new youth intervention programme.

Essex could see a share of £22 million to prevent young people committing serious violent offences.

Roger Hirst, the Police, Fire and Crime Commissioner for Essex, is bidding for a share of the Home Office’s Early Intervention Youth Fund.

The purpose is to provide support for early intervention programmes with young people, aged under 18, at risk of criminal involvement.

A maximum grant is for £700,000 to each Police, Fire and Crime Commissioner, across two financial years.

Mike Lilley (Lab), Colchester councillor responsible for public safety, said the money would help support the on-going work tackling drug gangs and mental health.

He said: “Children are being dragged into gangs and enticed with drugs.

“This money will be a community benefit, but it’s early days.

“It’s due to society at the moment, children are coming from deprived areas.

“When a 13-year-old gets offered £300 to sell drugs, they are convinced.

“The gangs have a hold over them all the time.”

In a report showing the framework, it said: “We know that there are significant links between London-based gangs and drug activity in Essex, through county lines.

“It is vital that we work with our partners across borders to give a united and unified response to tackle this national problem.

“We also know that instances of serious violence are still increasing.”

Gang-related recorded crimes rose from three per month on average in 2016 to nine per month in 2017.

Figures also showed knife crime offences increased from 1,716 in 2015/2016 to 2,321 in 2016/2017.

Mr Hirst said: “There is a growing concern across the communities of Essex about the increase in serious violence around gang activity.

“We want to steer young and vulnerable people away from this lifestyle and we can only do this by working with our partners.

“Alongside colleagues from the Safer Essex Partnership, we have published a Violence and Vulnerability Framework that will provide the collective focus needed to address this problem.

“This framework is the first of its kind in the country and to ensure we are able to progress with this as quickly as possible, we are using it as the basis of a bid to bring funding through the Early Intervention Youth Fund.”

THE framework includes data, education, prevention and partnerships.

Some key points are to:

Ensure awareness is factual, age appropriate and inclusive

Provide information on how to spot the signs of those who are most vulnerable being targets

Expand messaging on existing programmes to include violence and gang associated messaging

Engage with voluntary organisations and develop multiagency campaigns

Ensure organisations link with the educational sector to both encourage and support young people to remain in mainstream education for as long as possible and to support delivery of any violence and vulnerability programmes

If necessary, use criminal behaviour orders, gang injunctions and closure orders.