Outsiders cannot help reduce gun crime

Rushing in where angels fear to tread, Stephen Bubb, chief executive of Acevo, has been urging the Government to fund national charities and intervene and help communities that are experiencing the crisis of teen gun gangs.

He knows how important it is for non-profits to 'follow the money' - note his £10,000 a year for the odd day chairing the Adventure Capital Fund (Third Sector, 28 February). But even if the Government were willing to put millions into his 'third sector action zone', Bubb's muddled thinking helps no one.

Rather like Acevo members rushing to hug a hoodie, the advice of charities not already caught in the crossfire would hardly be welcome. And amid this almost exclusively black-on-black crime, new white faces will carry precious little weight, especially when the priority is to confront the culture of despair in which teen gangs thrive, so that communities can cast them out or rescue those worth helping.

These young killers are deluded into preferring the 'glamour' of crime and violence to anything requiring effort or commitment. Even the carefully crafted vandalism of spray paint 'tags' has lost out to the instant notoriety of YouTube uploads that flaunt weapons with the 'notice-me' ostentation of those with nothing to offer.

Much of this comes from the import of US gangsta rap and hip-hop and the attitudes of greed, lust and hatred that are espoused by such music, which is often performed by artists fresh from careers in crime, drugs or pimping. More than anything, this gun crime is about those who have nothing to lose because their lives are value-free: kids whose demands for unearned 'respect' reflect the worthlessness they feel inside. The appropriate symbol of such failure is the low-slung jeans that not only celebrate incarcerated criminals denied their belts, but are much appreciated by the police in slowing fleeing homeboys.

As a former youth court magistrate, Mr Bubb must know how tough it is to tackle teen crime. As a charity leader, he surely appreciates that hundreds of community groups - charities, faith organisations, schools, youth clubs and more - are already engaged in combating gun crime alongside local councils. They need cash and support, not outsiders elbowing them aside. Unless others have more insight than the locals, or far more money than sense, they should ignore Stephen B's call to arms.

• Nick Cater is a consultant and writer


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