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Christian response to government violence strategy: It's not enough

by Tola Mbakwe

The strategy identifies the changing drugs market – in particular the devastating impact of crack cocaine - as a key driver of the violence harming our communities and announces a range of powerful actions to tackle the issue of "county lines" and its implications for drugs, violence and exploitation of vulnerable people.

It includes £3.6m to establish a new National County Lines Coordination Centre.

Social media companies have also been warned they must no longer be "passive hosts" in the fight to tackle surging levels of violence.

Sheldon Thomas, a Christian and former gang member told Premier that ministers are being short-sighted.

"Anything that the government comes up with can only help," he said.  "But they only do this as a last minute thing, not a long term solution. It's a very short term plan."

Patrick Reagan from XLP, a Christian charity tackling gangs, told Premier young people in gangs need more than a government strategy to change.

Reagan said: "A young person needs security, self-worth and significance. Relationship nurtures the belief that change is possible. We need to not have a one size all fits thing.

"We need to understand our community and have relational program that's going to bring change for the long term.

"At the moment here's a lot of fear around and I think fear is the main reason kids carry knives. Fear can make you paranoid which in turn affects your mental health. 

"The reality is fear of being attacked is much greater than the fear of going to prison."

Thomas agreed and said churches should be a big part of the solution.

"The small churches are doing plenty but they're the ones with no financial resources," he said.

"The big churches are doing next to nothing and I think the big churches should support organisations that are already doing work. "

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