St Albans violent crime: 'Intervention needed to break the cycle of grooming'
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A family member of one of the boys convicted for a spate of violent crime says his parents begged for years for the authorities to intervene - but their pleas fell on deaf ears.
She makes no excuses for the behaviour of the four guilty teenagers, but insists the cycle of grooming and forced criminality is unlikely to be broken despite their convictions because the focus is not on finding a solution by challenging the existing culture.
The woman, whose identity we are not revealing for legal reasons, is furious their headteacher did not respond to desperate pleas when the boys were being groomed and bullied in school, instead excluding them to avoid taking any responsibility.
She said: "Herts police failed to respond to positive results of modern day slavery and forced criminality from the National Referral Mechanism. The exploitation of these boys is a failure of the system.
"This is devastating for their families and even though these boys are now incarcerated and have been for months these crimes have not stopped as the ringleaders just move on to new recruits who they entrap and put into their debt.
"The police then group some incidents together and are able to convict based on association, graphics and character but not on evidence and so it goes on.
"The vast amount of taxpayers' money being spent in investigations, courts and legal representation would much be much spent on intervention, support and core issues."
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She added: "I'm not condoning anyone's behaviour because nobody wants to live around violence, but it needs recognising where the core elements of these offences come from.
"Those boys didn't just wake up one morning and do these things, it's grown over time. Families that are in these situations need to be able to identify the underlying issues and early-warning signs so they can step in, hopefully lessons will be learned from this case from all persons, including the authorities."