Teenage gang plague 'six times worse in Glasgow than London'

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GLASGOW has six times as many teenage gangs as London per capita, according to a report by an influential think tank led by former Conservative leader Iain Duncan Smith.

The Centre for Social Justice says in its report on deprived cities that Scotland's biggest city is "notorious for its levels of youth and violent crime".

It has 170 teenage gangs – the same as London, despite the UK capital having six times the population.

Glasgow is a "tale of two cities" in which the eye-catching regeneration of the commercial centre masks social decay elsewhere. The economic renaissance is being blighted by appalling levels of deprivation, which the former Tory leader says is worse than some third-world cities.

Ahead of his meeting at Celtic FC with community groups today, Mr Duncan Smith said there was too much emphasis on regeneration of "buildings and not enough on human capital".

The government had focused its regeneration efforts on "buildings and panes of glass and smarter roads. But we think there needs to be a re-jigging of emphasis, that it is people who are critical. People make cities, cities don't make people."

Glasgow City Council has an annual budget of 2 billion. Of this about 30 million is spent directly on development and regeneration.

The city attracts 4.7 billion in inward investment a year, but Mr Duncan Smith said there were still massive inequalities, including a 25-year discrepancy between areas in life expectancy.

Mr Duncan Smith has studied other cities such as Manchester and Birmingham, but said he was "horrified" by some of the statistics on Glasgow.

The report, to be published today, paints a violent picture of the city.

It says: "There are estimated to be more than 170 gangs in the Glasgow city region – this compares to 169 identified by the Metropolitan Police Service in London, a city over six times the size. By Glasgow's ratio of gangs to population, there would be over 1,000 gangs in London."

At over 34 serious assaults per 10,000 people, this crime in Glasgow is more than two and a half times the national rate.

Stabbings account for half of all murders in Scotland, and more than 50 per cent of knives found in Scotland are seized in Glasgow.

Mr Duncan Smith also said the city's drug and alcohol strategy was not working and was critical of the practice of dishing out methadone.

He said there are fewer than 117 beds in drug rehabilitation centres in Glasgow, despite the city having up to 40,000 addicts. It was easier for local authorities to prescribe methadone rather than get someone into rehab.

He credits a visit to the notorious Easterhouse estate in 2002 as being the moment he changed his political priorities.

Among his proposals are: revising the benefits system to incentivise work, rewarding marriage with a transferable tax allowance for married couples, and expanding abstinence-based treatment for drug addicts and alcoholics.