Redbridge to lead the way with family therapy to combat gang crime

Young people in east London at risk of becoming involved in gangs will be given family therapy for the first time in a bid to bring down violent crime.

The therapy programme will start in the capital later this year after a successful trial in the US.

Redbridge will be the first council in the country to run the scheme having been awarded more than £780,000 from the Home Office’s Youth Endowment Fund to start the Functional Family Therapy (FFT) sessions.

Gang members or young people affiliated with gangs and their carers will be assigned a clinical therapist for up to five months to overcome “negative patterns of behaviour within the family”.

Councillor Elaine Norman, the borough’s cabinet member for children, said: “Deterring young people away from gangs and criminality is an absolute priority for us. We want to give our young people the best opportunities and starts in life, as well as the support they need when they need it.”

A study, published last year, found that young people associated with gangs in Philadelphia and ordered to complete FFT by courts had “significantly lower levels of self-reported general delinquency, drug use and alcohol use”.

High risk gang offenders also had a “lower prevalence of arrest, fewer felony charges, crimes against person charges and property crime charges, according to the reported funded by the US Department of Justice.

Redbridge will be working with the Cambridgeshire-based Family Psychology Mutual to deliver the therapy sessions.

Tom Jefford, from Family Psychology Mutual said: “This clinical adaptation of Functional Family Therapy is new to the UK and so we hope to make a valuable contribution to reduce the risks posed to vulnerable young people by gang involvement by adding specialist family work to the interventions already in place.”

Rachael Burford

Local Democracy Reporter