Gangs & Young People
What is a gang?
The term ‘gang’ means different things to different people. A group of young people hanging out together does not make a gang. A gang is usually considered to be a group of people who spend time in public places that also:
- see themselves (and are seen by others) as a noticeable group, and
- engage in a range of criminal activity and violence.
They may also have any or all of the following features
- identify with or lay a claim over territory,
- are in conflict with other, similar gangs.
A criminal network however is different from a gang; it's a group of individuals involved in persistent criminality for some form of personal gain (this includes profit and/or to gain or demonstrate status) which is causing significant harm to the community. It is:
- a group that keeps breaking the law to make money.
- This law-breaking is causing harm to the community
- or, this law-breaking is a problem internationally (e.g. people trafficking)
- Violence is used in order to make money (e.g. to scare people into giving them money)
- They are running an illegal business (e.g. drug trafficking)
Why do people belong to gangs?
Young people might join a gang for the following reasons:
- a sense of belonging
- they think it will make them safer
- they think they will make money
- they are forced in to joining (blackmailed or coerced)
Children and young people involved with, or on the edges of, gangs might be victims of violence or they might be pressured into committing crime by stealing or carrying drugs or weapons (either locally or by ‘running county lines’ transporting drugs to other counties). They might be abused, exploited or put into dangerous situations. Initiation in to gangs often involves sexual abuse and exploitation for both females and males.
How can you help a child involved in a gang?
The Metropolitan Police’s Safe website has information about gangs and group violence.
If a child or young person is being abused, call the MASH Team on 0208 461 7309 to protect the child or young person from further abuse. Children’s Social Care will work with partner agencies to ensure the child is safeguarded.