AN ANDOVER councillor has raised concerns that young people in Andover could be at risk of being ‘recruited’, after police revealed they believe the Basingstoke Street Gang to be operating in the area.

Cllr Stu Waue (ATC, St Mary’s) has called on schools to assist with ‘early engagement’ to prevent youngster identified as engaging in bullying behaviour from becoming “knife wielding thugs”.

It comes after Chief Inspector of Test Valley Police, Korey Thorne, told members of Andover Town Council that the force believes the street gang has been coming to Andover in recent weeks and months.

Speaking to the Advertiser, Cllr Waue said: “We have local gangs of troublemakers that need corrective action before they move onto more serious things. It worries me that the local groups may follow the example of the Basingstoke Street Gang, or worse, get recruited by them.”

He continued: “If we want to prevent gang activity in Andover we need to strike early. Pull them up when they're just acting like tearaways, and we might prevent them from completely ruining theirs or anybody else's lives.

“I also think that the schools have an invaluable part to play in preventing youth crime. Many young criminals won't have just been well behaved one day and knife wielding thugs the next - it's the result of escalation, and many will have started out as bullies.

“Schools can identify potential troublemakers early and through early engagement with parents and effective escalation of sanctions for continuous behavioural issues, potential young criminals may choose to follow more virtuous paths.”