Responses to gang culture: The need for localised strategies

Youth crime remains endemic in deprived urban areas. Communities must develop inclusive, youth-led strategies to tackle the gangs, writes a Labour councillor.

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By Cllr. Zaffar van Kalwala (Labour, Stonebridge Ward, London Borough of Brent)

Recently, 14 members of the ‘Thugs of Stonebridge’ gang were arrested in my ward as part of Operation Serpentine, the Metropolitan Police’s anti-gang initiative.
The arrests were a timely reminder that even after £250m of regeneration investment from the last Labour government, the dark shadows of guns and gangs still hang over the notorious Stonebridge estate, formerly an address to which you couldn’t get a pizza delivered.

Stonebridge-Estate-HarlesdenFrom SE10 to NW10, young people in gangs commit 22% of all serious violence in the capital. Today, we’re witnessing a worrying process of ‘Americanisation’, with gangs using colour-coded clothes, a la Los Angeles’ Bloods and Crips gangs, as trainers hung from telephone lines mark out their territories.

Yet most shocking of all is the propensity of some young people to use extreme violence and aggression, and then to flaunt it with pride on social media networks.

This careless violence and terror blights our streets everyday. Only 17% of young people feel safe in London. What is now needed is not just a radical, innovative approach to tackling gangs, but something more in sync with the lure of this corrosive new street culture.

This is why I’m supporting Stella Creasy MP’s Mayoral Youth Crime Pledge, which calls for the next Mayor of London to tackle youth crime. It empowers young people by creating young leaders and putting youth crime firmly on the next Mayor’s agenda. It gives a voice to London’s youth who, we sometimes forget, are also victims of crime.

 


See also:

Responding to the riots: We need more than fuzzy buzz words from the government 1 Apr 2012

IDS jumped the gun: Gangs had nothing to do with the riots 10 Nov 2011

MPs give voice to the ‘real human tragedies’ behind today’s unemployment stats 12 Oct 2011

How to build a cross-party consenus on responding to the riots 16 Aug 2011

Grayling’s revisionism on Wire comparisons 6 Oct 2009


 

Last year, 7,500 young people were victims of knife crime. Moreover, all the evidence tells us that once a young person is a victim of crime, they are more likely to carry a knife themselves.

I recently hosted Labour MP Stella Creasy at our local youth radio station in Brent, where she spoke to young people about their experiences of gangs and the challenges of growing up in one of the most deprived areas in the country.

They told their stories with passion and purpose. We heard how some young people couldn’t go to other postcodes because they were from another part of the borough, even if it was only a few hundred meters away.

They spoke about having a virtual family where they hardly saw their parents, because they were working numerous jobs to make ends meet. In this situation, the gangs, by providing these young people both with the latest Nike trainers and a sense of love and belonging, become surrogate families.

We heard, too, about young girls who are drawn into gangs and subjected, along with the usual iniquities of gang culture and criminality, to sexual exploitation and abuse. The need for gang members to be the ‘big man’, to not back down whatever the odds, has become immortalised by ‘grime’, the tough urban music genre which fuses hip-hop, garage and drum and bass.

Government cuts, youth unemployment, tensions with the police and the erosion of community spirit only add to the complexities of the problems we face.

Our solution to gang culture needs to move away from a one-dimensional approach, which focuses solely on increasing resources. Although this is important, increased investment in youth services will achieve nothing without paying attention to other factors such as housing, education, family support raising aspirations and tackling social deprivation.

Above all, local stakeholders need to develop a coherent, coordinated gangs strategy. Isolated strands of public policy, and fragmented interventions by various public departments and organisations, must be eradicated. We need a more inclusive approach, which brings together local partners to develop youth-led initiatives. Local models can respond to local dynamics, and can be specific to the communities in which gangs operate.

We are now at a tipping point. Do we just accept gangs and gang culture, or do we, as a community, say that this is something we will not tolerate?

 


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28 Responses to “Responses to gang culture: The need for localised strategies”

  1. Kathryn Prince

    Responses to gang culture: The need for localised strategies: http://t.co/cRlqRNWS by @TheCouncillor

  2. Lenford C. Lloyd

    Solutions>>Violence: Responses to gang culture: The need for localised strategies: The arrests were a timely rem… http://t.co/AikCgHX4

  3. No Offence!

    Responses to gang culture: The need for localised strategies: http://t.co/cRlqRNWS by @TheCouncillor

  4. Shamik Das

    Responses to gang culture: The need for localised strategies: http://t.co/cRlqRNWS by @TheCouncillor

  5. leftlinks

    Left Foot Forward – Responses to gang culture: The need for localised strategies http://t.co/rZQSELh7

  6. Dit Maloney-Rock

    Responses to gang culture: The need for localised strategies: http://t.co/cRlqRNWS by @TheCouncillor

  7. Anonymous

    So all this article has said effectively is that: Youth crime is bad and we need to pledge to do something about it. Okay, acknowledging the problem exists is a great start, but what exactly are you going to do about it?

    What will these ‘local models’, ‘inclusive approaches’ and ‘youth led initiatives’ actually consist of in policy terms? Orwell would have a field day with this sort of platitudinous.

    This is probably the biggest problem in politics today; far too often we hear politicians saying ‘there needs to be a debate about…’, not often enough do we actually hear what these politicians intend to say in that debate.

  8. Henley Sociology

    RT @leftfootfwd: Responses to gang culture: The need for localised strategies: http://t.co/fBiZxiOs by @TheCouncillor #SCLY4

  9. BevR

    RT @leftfootfwd: Responses to gang culture: The need for localised strategies http://t.co/ZZiE5xcE

  10. Anonymous

    And in studies I’ve seen, young people from ethnic minorities feel more threatened BY the met than anyone else. Until the met’s had a massive cultural and personnel change, other initiatives are throwing water onto a chemical fire.

  11. HENs Theatre Company

    RT @leftfootfwd: Responses to gang culture: The need for localised strategies http://t.co/ZZiE5xcE

  12. H. O.

    RT @leftfootfwd: Responses to gang culture: The need for localised strategies http://t.co/fY4nbMOQ

  13. No Offence!

    Responses to gang culture: the need for localised strategies | Left Foot Forward http://t.co/tBPC4LxO

  14. Zaffar Van Kalwala

    We need local solutions to local problems when it come to gangs. http://t.co/f8sjLE6m

  15. BevR

    RT @leftfootfwd: Responses to gang culture: The need for localised strategies http://t.co/ZZiE5xcE

  16. Foxy52

    RT @leftfootfwd: Responses to gang culture: The need for localised strategies http://t.co/ZZiE5xcE

  17. sean

    RT @leftfootfwd: Responses to gang culture: The need for localised strategies http://t.co/ZZiE5xcE

  18. Cllr Zaffar Van Kalwala

    It is indeed important that we have we clear and coherent policies that have tangible outcomes and make a real difference on the ground. This is exactly the reason why I have set-up and chair the Brent Gangs taskgroup which will look to develop strategies to help young people exit gangs. It will include a series of of enforcement as well as diversionary initiatives to help combat the problem. For more info see http://democracy.brent.gov.uk/mgConvert2PDF.aspx?ID=3404

  19. LeapConfrontConflict

    Responses to gang culture: the need for localised strategies | Left Foot Forward http://t.co/tBPC4LxO

  20. Alan White

    RT @NoOffenceCIC: Responses to gang culture: the need for localised strategies | Left Foot Forward http://t.co/e7SxQLrv < deeply correct

  21. Cllr Krupesh Hirani

    RT @leftfootfwd: Responses to gang culture: The need for localised strategies http://t.co/2YsQjQGe by @theCouncillor

  22. James Austin

    http://t.co/CfBYfduD Great article by @TheCouncillor on gang crime. Fantastic bloke whose doing fantastic work.

  23. scruffbagproductions

    We need local solutions to local problems when it come to gangs. http://t.co/f8sjLE6m

  24. kristin mcilquham

    @TheCouncillor: We need local solutions to local problems when it come to gangs. http://t.co/feGuaUPw” check this out & #brent guys follow!

  25. Victoria Bavister

    “@TheCouncillor: We need local solutions to local problems when it come to gangs. http://t.co/iElvi57Z” Good things 4 #Brent & #stonebridge

  26. LeapConfrontConflict

    RT @leftfootfwd: Responses to gang culture: The need for localised strategies http://t.co/CvScnmLp

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