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Gangs have emerged as a major problem in Australia. There are an estimated 3500 gang members and 35 outlaw groups in Australia. There is diversity amongst gangs. They vary according to ethnic composition, criminal activities and stability. Gangs evolve due to external pressure, intervention and indirect factors like population change and economic conditions. Some communities deny the existence of gangs while others have cracked down on them harshly. (Spergel, 2007) Gangs perpetrate crimes such as murder, prostitution, gambling, extortion, arson, theft, etc.
Gang violence is an attack on individuals and communities. It breeds an environment of fear. It prevents elderly, women and children from moving safely. New laws and tougher penalties are the first step towards reducing gang violence. At the same successful community based programs should be initiated which help students from marginalised sections of society. Proper social programs can successfully prevent students from joining gangs. Another important step to solving the problem of gangs is to increase safety for witnesses. (Spergel, 2007)
Gangs are a problem in local and urban areas. A combination of federal, state and community based strategies is the best way to tackle gangs. Youth must be prevented from joining gangs. Existing gangs must be transformed into social clubs and conflicts should be resolved between gangs. This strategy has been successfully applied in different parts of the world. Studies have shown the success of school curriculums combined with recreational programs. This approach has been demonstrated to be successful in crushing gangs. Development of recreation programs like sports and music can also help in preventing students from joining gangs. Enlisting former gang members can also be effective in reducing violence and mediating in conflicts. On the state level gangs can be crushed if tough penalties are imposed. Laws must be introduced which make drug dealing and firearms punishable by harsher punishments. On the city level also effective and tougher legislation can deter gangs. Ordinances must be passed which prohibit belligerent public behavior. Offences like graffiti and vandalism must also be severely punished. Laws can also be initiated which discourage using gang symbols like colors and gestures. The use and possession of firearms should also be prohibited in residential areas. The threat of evicting people using or possessing firearms can be effective in reducing gang violence.
Preventing gang members from meeting each other can also be another effective step to crush gangs. (Jankowski, 1991) Cities and towns can coordinate their efforts with the government to crack down on gangs and control violence. (Jankowski, 1991) Several cities have enforced policies of zero tolerance against gangs. Gang members have been arrested and incarcerated. The congregation of gangs has been disrupted. Attempts have been made to intervene in conflicts and prevent violence. Strict laws and penalties have been introduced against firearm possession and use. Neighbourhood patrols have increased and cooperation between neighbours has intensified. Government assistance has also been used to crush the gangs. The government's surveillance equipment and wiretapping equipment has played an important role in crushing the gangs. Gang members have been sent to government jails instead of local jails. Inside local jails the likelihood of gang members is increased. However government jails prevent gang members from interacting inside the jail. Local, state and government law enforcement agencies can cooperate and coordinate their efforts towards gangs. Special job training programs can help young adults and students to learn new skills and find relevant jobs. A community based approach towards reducing gang violence is also effective. Community based initiatives have been successful in combating gangs.
A community must ensure that students attend schools and are not influenced by gangs. The community can identify risk areas like residential and commercial areas where gangs frequently visit. Action can be taken to prevent these gangs from harming life and property. Community policing is another effective tactic in reducing gang violence. Proper committees which police can effectively reduce gang violence. Housing schemes should evict residents if they possess or use firearms. (Goldstein, 2003)
Community cooperation can be enhanced by better cooperation amongst neighbours. However many people are reluctant to join for fear of retaliation from gangs. This results in gangs moving freely in neighbourhoods. Community leaders must promote unity amongst the neighbours. Important sections of society could play leading role. Public officials can be helpful in assisting citizens in reducing gang violence.
Gangs are a problem in Australia. They have been involved in money laundering, gambling, drug smuggling, prostitution, murder, weapons possession, arson and other criminal activities. The rising gang violence has forced the government to take rapid action. (Goldstein, 2003)
A successful gang reduction policy uses government, state, city and community level approaches to tackling gang violence. Government resources can be used to arrest and incarcerate gang members. State and city can implement ordinances which would introduce tough punishment for gang related offences. Gangs can be prevented from meeting each and symbols of gangs can be banned. Community based approach can also achieve success through unity and community policing.
Goldstein, Arnold P. (2003). The Gang Intervention Handbook. US: Routelege.
Jankowski, Martín Sánchez (1991). Islands in the Street: Gangs and American Urban Society. US: University of California.
Spergel, Irving A. (2007). Reducing Youth Gang Violence: The Little Village Gang Project in Chicago. US: Rowans Altamira.