THE UK’s first gang-focused research centre has opened in Ealing.

It aims to help tackle the growing problems of youth violence and gang culture across the country.  

The National Centre for Gang Research (NCGR) at the University of West London will study serious youth violence, its origins and its impacts.

It wants to help address rising problems of violence and exploitation, in which children as young as 10 are recruited into gangs. 

Research will look at urban street gangs, the rise of county lines, and the impact of social media, all of which have changed the nature of crime and youth violence. 

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A launch event at Parliament, titled Gangs, Knives and Youth Violence: Why the rise and what to do about it, was attended by MPs, police, frontline youth and care workers and reformed gang members.

Prof Simon Harding, Professor of Criminology at UWL, said: "Gang culture has changed dramatically. Gang members are getting younger as children are groomed into this lifestyle only to become increasingly embedded in gang life.

“Amid greater competition to be noticed and to build reputation, many often use extreme violence.

"We need to drastically change our approach to how we manage these situations, using 21st Century solutions, joint working and much greater collaboration."

He has spent 35 years researching crime and community safety in our communities, acting as a specialist adviser to bodies including the Home Office.