TEACHERS and youth workers across Oxfordshire are to be trained in how to spot whether a young person has been recruited into a gang.

Social workers and police officers will also get 'gang awareness training' to encourage them to identify and help those at risk of exploitation.

Thames Valley Police and Crime Commissioner Anthony Stansfeld has launched the scheme as part of force-wide efforts to tackle gang culture and county-lines drug dealing.

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He explained: "The main aim of this training is to help protect young people from a life of violence, exploitation and criminality.

"To do this we need to give front-line workers the awareness to be able to recognise issues being faced by young people who are at risk of exploitation into gangs and provide them with the practical skills to help safeguard them. I hope that’s what this training will achieve."

A key part of the training will be personal testimony from ex-gang members who draw on their own experiences, sharing specialist knowledge and focussing on practical elements of supporting vulnerable young people.

A total of 26 training sessions will be delivered across the Thames Valley by Reach Every Generation, an organisation working to transform the lives of young people caught up in gang culture.

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Gavin McKenna, director of Reach Every Generation said “This is a great opportunity for all those booked onto this training and shows the forward thinking of the office of the PCC in Thames Valley and their desire to equip frontline staff.

“The issue of serious youth violence, criminal exploitation and county lines is not a new phenomenon, however it is devastating our communities in and out of London and other major cities.

“As society seek answers to the problem, we aim to equip those on the frontline with the knowledge and insight into what works. We all know the problem we just need to go on Twitter or watch the news; what we want to do is look not at the problems, but the solutions.

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“We are honoured to be part of this work and want to thank the PCC for the opportunity to offer our services across Thames Valley.”

Other activities being delivered as part of the Early Intervention Youth Fund project include a ‘County Lines’ play touring secondary schools, workshops for young people on gangs and knife crime, youth work to tackle school exclusions, detached youth work in the community and intensive interventions with those already involved in criminality or exploitation.