GangThe NSPCC has urged health professionals and other adults who are worried a child might be at risk from being involved with gangs to contact their extended helpline service.

The charity is launching the service, which will be delivered through its existing helpline, to support parents as figures show that one in six 13 to 15-year-olds say they know someone in a street gang.The charity is also responding to concerns from across the sector that too many children are being left to ruin their lives in gangs and need adults to intervene and help them.

Minister for Crime Prevention Norman Baker said: "Gang culture is a destructive element in our society, for both the individuals caught up in it, and indeed for the communities unfortunate enough to come into contact with gangs.

"As part of our Ending Gang and Youth Violence programme, we pledged to prevent young people getting involved in gangs, to help those already involved in gangs to leave, and to work with the NSPCC to extend their extremely important helpline.

"By offering specialist backing and support, this service will empower parents and others to help the young people they are concerned about to find help, turn their lives around and leave the corrosive life of gang violence behind them."

The Home Office has compiled a list of 33 local authorities in England where it says gangs are an issue, based on factors including crime levels and police intelligence.

The service will be promoted in those areas through a poster campaign while the Centre for Social Justice has also welcomed the initiative.

NSPCC Head of Child Protection Operations John Cameron added: "Young people involved in gangs are frequently abused, exploited and put in dangerous situations.
 
"We know from listening to children that they are often terrified of what they are doing and want to leave gangs and we believe adults have an incredibly important role to play in helping them to break free.
 
"Parents, carers and other adults often struggle to know where to turn when faced with a young person who they think might be involved in a gang. This is exactly why we are extending our 24/7, anonymous helpline - so we can offer advice, support and information on what action they can take."