Anti-gangs project begins in Harlow

3 September 2018, 09:05 | Updated: 3 September 2018, 09:16

A new project is starting in Harlow this month, to help stop vulnerable young people from joining gangs.

David Simmons has founded the 'Changing Lives in Harlow' programme.

"London gangs are getting on the trains now, coming from London, and coming into Essex," he told Heart.

"They're literally recruiting children by standing outside the gates of the schools, and looking and picking on the most vulnerable children.

"{They're] picking on the parents as well, if they haven't got enough they'll give them £50 to lure them in, or new clothing and things like that."

The Changing Lives project sees children being collected from school by mini bus and taken to workshops and activities such as rugby - to try and get them out of being recruited by gangs.

David says early prevention work is important to deter children from joining gangs.

"When I was in a school, I had a six year old pull out a knife on me.

"There's a real issue out there, and I think there's a prevention needed early on in primary schools.

"You've got the whole of the sex education system going on, and there needs to a similar workshop, education programme that we need to deliver {about gangs}."

The project is working alongside Essex Police, the NHS and Harlow Council and runs 2 days a week.