Gangs – Guidance

The following has been taken from the London child protection procedures 2015 (5th edition)

Introduction

There are a number of areas in which young people are put at risk by gang activity, both through participation in and as victims of gang violence which can be in relation to their peers or to a gang-involved adult in their household.
A child who is affected by gang activity or serious youth violence may have suffered, or may be likely to suffer, significant harm through physical, sexual and emotional abuse

Significant harm is a situation where a child is suffering, or is likely to suffer, a degree of physical, sexual and / or emotional harm (through abuse or neglect), which is so harmful that there needs to be compulsory intervention by child protection services

Definition of a gang

Groups of children often gather together in public places to socialise, and peer association is an essential feature of most children’s transition to adulthood. Groups of children can be disorderly and/or anti-social without engaging in criminal activity.
Defining a gang is difficult, however it can be broadly described as a relatively durable, predominantly street-based group of children who see themselves (and are seen by others) as a discernible group for whom crime and violence is integral to the group’s identity.
Children may be involved in more than one ‘gang’, with some cross-border movement, and may not stay in a ‘gang’ for significant periods of time. Children rarely use the term ‘gang’, instead they used terms such as ‘family’, ‘breddrin’, ‘crews’, ‘cuz’ (cousins), ‘my boys’ or simply ‘the people I grew up with’.
Definitions may need to be highly specific to particular areas or neighbourhoods if they are to be useful. Furthermore, professionals should not seek to apply this or any other definition of a gang too rigorously; if a child or others think s/he is involved with or affected by ‘a gang’, then a professional should act accordingly.
Violence is a way for gang members to gain recognition and respect by asserting their power and authority in the street, with a large proportion of street crime perpetrated against members of other gangs or the relatives of gang members.
Youth violence, serious or otherwise, may be a function of gang activity. However, it could equally represent the behaviour of a child acting individually in response to his or her particular history and circumstances.
The Metropolitan Police Service defines serious youth violence as is ‘any offence of most serious violence or weapon enabled crime, where the victim is aged 1-19’ i.e. murder, manslaughter, rape, wounding with intent and causing grievous bodily harm. ‘Youth violence’ is defined in the same way, but also includes assault with injury offences.
The factors which influence a child’s propensity to initiate violence include:

  • Parenting which is cold / uncaring, non-nurturing and neglectful;
  • Parenting which includes harsh disciplining;
  • Maltreatment, such as physical or sexual abuse in childhood (abuse by adults and peers within and outside of the family); and/or
  • Trauma such as domestic violence or involvement in or witnessing conflict violence (see also domestic and sexual violence).
One factor which influences a child’s propensity to imitate violence is:

  • Parenting which is permissive and neglectful, resulting in a lack of guidance and creating ineffectiveness and poor self-control for a child. The child is then not equipped to resist an environment or group which instigates violence.

 

Please see link to find out more about this area including; community and family circumstances, professional response, agency response and violent extremism http://www.londoncp.co.uk/chapters/gang_activity.html#def_gang

Exit Path Gang Prevention & Support Programme

What is it about: The Exit Path Gang Prevention and Support Programme offers targeted young people the opportunity to attend group based gang workshops or 1:1 gang prevention sessions which seeks to inform them, challenge them and have a positive impact on their outlook, attitude and behaviour. The programme  is underpinned by three broad themes – to explore, to educate and to encourage commitments to long-term positive change. 

Who is the target: Targeted young people aged 13 to 19 at risk of involvement in anti-social behaviour, criminality and gangs. 

Delivery arrangements: Group based gang workshops take place Tuesdays evenings from 7:00pm to 9:00pm at Churchill Place, term time only. 1:1 gang prevention sessions take place Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays at appropriate identified venues.

  • The aim of the group session is to transition and exit identified young people away from gang lifestyles. Where appropriate they will be signposted to partnering agencies for further support in regards to substance misuse, counselling, employment and training.
  • 1:1 gang prevention sessions consist of 8 to 10 week themed sessions. The content, duration and intensity of these sessions vary depending on the need, risk and vulnerability of the young person being referred. 1:1 prevention sessions is preventative in nature aimed at those on the periphery of criminality and gang involvement.

Referral Process: Access to the programme is via referrals to Harrow Mash Team or Prevent and Gangs Co-ordinator in Early Intervention Service (EIS).

Contact Ahmed Abdi for more information: Ahmed.Abdi@harrow.gov.uk

NSPCC gangs helpline: protecting young people involved with gangs.

Summary: Short animation (2 minutes 14 seconds), looking at the NSPCC gangs helpline and exploring some of the issues affecting young people involved in gangs. Includes recordings from interviews with families affected by gang involvement. Developed in partnership with the Home Office.

Young people, Mental Health issues – MAST Online is here!

The Mayor’s Office for policing And Crime (MOPAC) and Metropolitan Police Service (MPS) are jointly funding with the Home Office, a mental health training programme known as MAST (Mental Health Awareness and Safeguarding Training).

yp mh

The MAST provides frontline professionals including teachers, police officers, council workers, health and social care workers, specialised training in understanding gang culture.

This programme promotes the safety of young people in London, by making it easier for practitioners to take action to support young people involved in gangs where there are signs that they are suffering from mental health (MH) issues and/or emotional trauma (ET).

To support the fully funded training, a range of e-resources for professionals have been developed including a discussion forum, advice from safeguarding experts, as well as real life case studies, academic papers, and useful tips.

(image courtesy of Young Minds)

The site also gives valuable information on:

How to Identify Mental Health Issues
Key Facts & Statistics about mental health, safeguarding and gangs
Referral Guides across the London Boroughs
Gang Culture Resource Centre

In addition, the site gives you access to the fully funded courses available for individuals and groups across London, including:

  1. Introduction: Mental Health Awareness
  2. Mental Health: Early warning signs and triggers for young people (gangs)
  3. Working with Transition
  4. Understanding Street Gangs (Gangs, Girls in Gangs)

Download MAST Training Brochure

If you would like further information with regards to MAST and the online resources please visit: www.mastonline.co.uk or if you would like to attend one of the free training courses or arrange an on-site training day for your team please contact mastraining@premier-partnership.co.uk   or   call us on 01302 369700.


Misunderstood

Enthusiasm, Derby

The following short film shows young men and their youth worker engaged in the Enthusiasm project, an initiative for young people in gang-associated areas.

It presents their ideas for supporting other young men to leave gangs.

https://youtu.be/0s2kTTolj8w

 


 

Useful Documents and Links:

The growing public concern around child sexual exploitation (CSE) has led to a focus on the link between CSE and going missing and this is now beginning to have an impact on policy and practice.

The link between gang involvement and young people going missing from home and/or at risk of CSE has not had the same policy attention.  This report highlights the connection between the two.

Running the Risks – The links between gang involvement and YP going missing:
Download Summary
Download Full Report

The Home office has produced a guidance for professionals in dealing with criminal exploitation of children and vulnerable adults.

Please click here to download the guidance.

 

 

 

What to do if you are worried about a child. To discuss concerns or make a referral: