By Rowena Mason
Children as young as three can be identified as violent gang members of the future, according to a new Government report.
Theresa May, the Home Secretary, unveiled plans to cut off gang violence at the root by intervening in “problem families” from the moment children are born.
A new Home Office report said the beginnings of teenage violence lie in the “very earliest childhood experience”.
It found warning signs are “already clear” by the time a child enters primary school, including neglect, aggression, absence from class and slow development.
Children identified as “at risk” by the age of three are more than twice as likely to have criminal convictions by the age of 21, the report said.
“Early intervention is absolutely key,” Mrs May said. “That may need to come at a very early age indeed, with toddlers, ensuring they just don’t go down that road.”
Mrs May insisted that “very often the effective intervention is not the expensive intervention”.
She said hundreds of thousands of pounds can be spent on a single “problem family”, but often the money is not spent in the right way.
Iain Duncan-Smith, the Work and Pensions Secretary, estimated that around £12,000 was needed to “turn a family around” Improving “dysfunctional” communication between hospitals, social workers and police is crucial, he said.
Mr Duncan-Smith wants these organisations to “map” the family life of youths who are at risk of joining gangs or already members.
It is also planning to bring in injunctions for children as young as 14 to stop them socialising with gang members or going into certain problem areas. Around 100 experts in youth violence will be hired to tackle areas with particular problems.