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Last Updated: Tuesday, 7 February 2006, 11:31 GMT
Gangs 'serious as sectarianism'
By Alex Robertson
BBC Scotland news website
Glasgow and West reporter

Gang fight - generic
A pilot project is working with 10 east end gang members
Territorial gang fighting is as serious an issue as sectarianism, a senior council official has said.

Phil Walker, director of community services in Glasgow, made the claim as a pilot project to target gang members and put them into work got under way.

Mr Walker said that in his opinion territorialism ranked "alongside" sectarianism in affecting communities.

There are an estimated 170 gangs in Glasgow and police described clashes as "recreational violence".

Territorialism is fundamental to all their lives, there are invisible barriers
Phil Walker
Director of community services

However, Glasgow City Council is focusing on working with gangs and offering them new opportunities.

Mr Walker said: "We're focusing on gangs because they exhibit violence, drug misuse and weapon carrying.

"There are few sectarian gangs. Young people live with territorialism everyday in communities.

"Territorialism is fundamental to all their lives, there are invisible barriers.

"We must capture this group and we are looking at how to work with them and get them into employment."

Basketball project

A pilot project is under way in the east end of Glasgow which, if successful, will be rolled out across Glasgow.

Ten gang members in Dennistoun are rebuilding a basketball court.

Over 16 weeks they will also have an input from health, education, employers and others.

The project was launched following calls from residents and the local authority identified troublemakers.

Mr Walker added: "The pilot is there to see if you can get them to work as a team with discipline and routine while putting something back into the community.

"Staff say: You're in a gang, we know your profile, the community are concerned and here is an opportunity."

'Recreational violence'

Police said gang violence had been an issue in Glasgow "for many decades".

Det Ch Supt John Carnochan is head of the Violence Reduction Unit, which is trying to find a long-term solution.

He said: "Territorialism is very often the excuse for conflict.

"In most incidents it's violence for violence sake. In fact, it can be described as recreational violence.

"It's as simple as young men from one scheme leaving home on a Saturday night and coming across a group of similar young men from another area.

"It's important that there are more opportunities for these young men to divert them away from violence and to lead a full life in their communities."

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