Eight boys given interim gang injunctions

Mick Ferris
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Interim gang injunctions have been secured against eight teenagers as part of police efforts to disrupt and dismantle gangs in Thurrock.

A number of violent incidents in the area have been connected to gang violence with prosecutions and convictions in connection with those investigations.

The injunctions applied to eight boys; three 15-year-olds, three 16-year-olds and two 17-year-olds.

As a result of their ages, they cannot be named publicly but their identities and the conditions attached to them have been disseminated to the local community policing team in Grays as well as to British Transport Police and key partners.

The interim injunctions carry stringent conditions which, if breached, can lead to the teenagers being arrested.

Among those conditions are:

  • Not to enter Grays High Street, Clarence Road, George Street, Morrisons Car Park, Orsett Road, Station Approach Road, Church Path, Crown Road including car park, The Mall and Grays Train Station unless accompanied by a parent, emergency worker or youth worker or for the purposes of a pre-arranged appointment.
  • Not to enter Seabrooke Rise, Grays Beach Park, Grays Sea Wall and Argent Street
  • Not to enter Lakeside shopping centre
  • Not to enter any railway station including the grounds and car parks of the railway station, unless in possession of or purchases immediately a valid ticket for travel and boards a train within 15 minutes of attending the railway station or alighting from a train having travelled to the station by train with a valid ticket for travel and immediately leaves the train station and car park.
  • Not to knowingly feature in, or make, any video or audio material which is threatening, abusive, insulting, incites violence, promotes criminal activity, shows weapons or makes reference to gang affiliations or tensions
  • Not to be in possession of any knife or bladed article irrespective of length of blade in a public place.
  • Being in possession of drug paraphernalia used to sell, consume or manufacture controlled drugs. This does not include items used to smoke tobacco (including lighters, filters and rolling paper).
  • Being in possession of more than £100 in cash at any one time without documentary evidence (including electronic evidence)
  • Not to associate with 25 named people
  • On social media, knowingly and purposefully being friends with, engaging with or sending a message to any of 25 people listed. This includes Snapchat, Instagram, Facebook and WhatsApp.

The interim orders are initially in place until 11.59pm on December 16 – and will be reviewed before then – and breaching any of the conditions carries the power of arrest.

While the interim injunctions have obvious enforcement sides, police also made the application in order to safeguard them and prevent them from becoming victims of further exploitation.

Detective Inspector Tanya Steele, of the Op Raptor team, said: “We will continue to use every power available to us to target and dismantle gangs, which not only cause misery for our law-abiding communities but also prey on vulnerable young people.

“These gangs dupe children into a dangerous lifestyle on the basis of false promises of money, clothes and status. But the reality is they will be subjected to violence and, later on down the line, will go on to exploit new members again in the same way they were exploited.

“These interim orders aim to not only prevent them from causing harm and nuisance to others, but also to steer them away from dangerous situations where they can come to harm, and to give them the opportunity to reflect on what direction they want their lives to go in.

“But enforcement alone will not solve these complex issues, which is why as a community we must all work together to show gang life doesn’t pay and there are many more positive alternatives.”

Supt Tim Tubbs, who oversees the west area local policing area, said: “The work being carried out by our officers undoubtedly makes Grays a safer place.

“But at Essex Police, we know many issues cannot be solved by enforcement alone and we work alongside our key partners in order to help to those who need it.

“These interim injunctions, while they have an obvious enforcement side, are about keeping those who are subject to them safe and ultimately helping them to leave that lifestyle.

“As a force, we will always offer help to those who need it. But to those who are entrenched in gang lifestyle, the message is clear; we won’t tolerate it and specialist officers will build cases against you so that when you are arrested and ultimately charged, you will have very little option but to admit your guilt and accept a sentence handed out by the court.”

Councillor Qaisar Abbas, Thurrock Council cabinet member for Culture and Communities, said: “We have seen how effective these types of injunctions are in disrupting the illegal activities of criminal gangs, so I welcome this action by Essex Police.

“These gangs exploit young people and cause violence and crime on the streets of Thurrock so any action taken to halt their illicit activities is welcome. We have seen similar injunctions used to great effect recently, so we know from experience how powerful a tool injunctions are in stopping gangs in their tracks.”

What are the key signs a child or young person could be at risk?

  • Children travelling alone, especially if this is in school hours, late at night or on a regular basis. If they are being criminally exploited, they may be sent significant distances and may be missing from home.
  • They may look lost or appear as though they are in unfamiliar surroundings.
  • They may appear anxious, frightened or angry, but they may also appear disruptive or aggressive – a common response to trauma.
  • They could be in possession of multiple phones.
  • They might appear under the control or instruction of others, including people who are older than them and do not appear to be family members.
  • You may see them with large amounts of cash.
  • Signs of a child being at risk online, could include them talking about older or new friends they have met online, talking about gifts, money or in game credits they have received online, receiving large numbers of calls or messages, being worried about being away from their phone and having a new phone or more than one phone. Learn about online safety, talk to them about it and take as much interest in their friends online as you would offline friends.
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Mick Ferris

Editor Email: mickferris@yellowad.co.uk