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Reluctant Gangsters: Youth Gangs in Waltham Forest John Pitts Vauxhall Professor of Socio-legal Studies, University of Bedfordshire.

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Presentation on theme: "Reluctant Gangsters: Youth Gangs in Waltham Forest John Pitts Vauxhall Professor of Socio-legal Studies, University of Bedfordshire."— Presentation transcript:

1 Reluctant Gangsters: Youth Gangs in Waltham Forest John Pitts Vauxhall Professor of Socio-legal Studies, University of Bedfordshire

2 Methodology  Review of relevant central/local government/police data and research  54 Interviews with key informants  YOT Caseload survey  Gang seriousness inventory  Literature/research review  Attendance at meetings  Mooching about and chatting

3 Why here? Why now?  In the UK in the s  Income polarisation (greatest in Europe)  De-industrialisation (20+% of industrial base lost)  The secession of the successful (via right to buy)  The concentration of disadvantage  The racialisation of disadvantage (London: up to 70% pop. on poorest estate BME: JRF)  By % of UK C&YP live in these neighbourhoods: JRF)  The concentration of criminal victimisation in areas of acute social deprivation

4 In these neighbourhoods crime is:  Youthful: Young people are victims and perpetrators  Implosive: Perpetrated by and against local residents  Repetitive: The same people are victimised again and again  Symmetrical: Victims and offenders are similar in terms of age, ethnicity and class  Violent  Under-reported: Threat of reprisal  Embedded: YP don’t ‘grow out of crime’  Drug-driven: ‘street youth’ become ‘players’ in local drugs markets

5 From a ‘blag’ to a business  Traditional East End organised crime was based on a series of one-off ‘blags’ followed by long, and sometimes luxurious, vacations.  By the late 1980s bank/post office robbery, lorry hi-jacking etc. was becoming more hazardous  By the 1990s highly lucrative illicit drugs were flooding into the capital and most upper-echelon gangsters moved into the drugs business  But the drugs business requires constant maintenance a large and expanding workforce to manufacture, package, distributes and sell drugs, protect the supply chain and ensures ‘contract compliance’.

6 The Changing Face of London’s Gangland 1950/1970s Organised Crime: N. London - The Adams Family E. London - The Kray Brothers S. London - The Richardsons Youth Movements: Teddy Boys. Mods Rockers Skinheads Neighbourhood- based/Style-based fighting: 1980s Organised Crime: From the Blag: Bank & Post Office robbery, Hijacking, Protection, Long Firms etc. To the Business: Drugs Youth Movements: Rude Boys/The Posse: Street Crime White Youth: Football Violence Asian Youth: Anti-Racist fight- Back/inter-group violence Neighbourhood-based/ Team- based/Race-based fighting:

7 1990s Organised Crime and Youth Movements Merge ‘Street corner’ youth become the street level workforce of the international drugs business Early 2000s Recognisable gangs with names, territories and division of labour. (Faces, Elders, Youngers/ Soldiers/ Sabbos/Shotters) gang territories become synonymous with drug markets Mid-2000s Respect shootings and violent street crime by Elders & Youngers/Soldiers/Sabbos escalate: mainly directed against identified rivals/competitors/enemies

8 2006/2007 Conflict broadens; affiliation with ‘Endz’ (post codes/boroughs), Violence escalates but now more random, directed against unidentified rivals.

9 Meanwhile, back on the Beaumont Estate  Early 1990s: Beaumont Gang small group of professional criminals  By the late 1990s: Beaumont Gang (with Tottenham, Harlesden and Hackney) battle for drug/crack cocaine markets in N. & E. London and win  Beaumont does deals with the 4 Waltham Forest crime families to divi-up local drugs markets  As the market expands the workforce expands and drug dealing territories become gang territories:

10 The Articulated Gang Upper Eschelon Drug Wholsalers The Face Elders Younger W.be Girl Friend Girl Friendd Girl Friend Shotter RGRG RGRG RGRG RGRG

11 The role of the Youngers  To ensure drugs get to the Shotters  To protect drug markets from other gangs  To ‘hang out’ to give early warning of police raids  To patrol territorial boundaries and defend gang territory from other gangs with a ‘beef’.  To enforce contracts for Faces or Elders  To collect debts for Faces or Elders

12 The role of the Youngers  To take revenge/make ‘hits’ on those who disrespect or cheat them or the Faces or Elders  To harass and burgle rival dealers  To undertake street crime to ‘Make their Ps’  To engage in ‘anti-social behaviour’/ intimidation of local residents  To carry drugs/weapons for Elders  To take the rap for elders (incl. ‘doing time’)

13 Joined-up Youth Crime Manuel Castells (2000) says that, with globalisation, the street gang becomes the shop floor of the international drugs business

14 Gang Definitions: Hallsworth & Young  Peer Group A small, unorganised, transient grouping occupying the same space with a common history. Crime is not integral to their self definition  Gang: A relatively durable, predominantly street- based group of young people who see themselves (and are seen by others) as a discernible group for whom crime and violence is integral to the group’s identity  Organised Criminal Group: Members are professionally involved in crime for personal gain operating almost exclusively in the ‘grey’ or illegal marketplace.

15 Gang Definitions: Gangs/Groups in Waltham Forest  The Articulated Gang  The Street Gang  The Compressed Street Gang  The Wannabee Gangsters  The Criminal Youth Group  The Middle Level International Criminal Business Organisation

16 Key Antagonistic relationships between gangs Alliances Between Gangs Out of Borough Gangs Gang Affiliations in Waltham Forest Piff City Beaumont Priory Court Harlesden Crew Hackney: Love of Money Crew, Holly St. Boys & Mothers Square Boundary/ Monserrat Boys Drive Atlee Terrace, Wood St. Marlow. Coppermill Chingford Hall Cathall Langthorne Oliver Cl. Canhall Tottenham Man Dem Crew Russian Gang Highams Park Gang Hackney Overground Commuters New World Order Stratford/ Forest Gate Gangs Asian Auto Theft to Order Boundary Hackney North Star Brookscroft/ Barrier Boys Lithuanian Gang Polish Gang Hackney E9 Bang Bang Red African Devils

17 The Gangs of Waltham Forest The Met. Harm Assessment Scale Crime TypeScore/Sentence Possess/Use Drug 7 Supply Drug25 Disorder (Affray) 3 Low Level Assault (ABH) 5 Serious Assault (GBH)25 Kidnap25 Murder/Manslaughter25 Possession/Use Knife 4 Possession/Use Firearms25 Vehicle Crime (TWOC) 5 Burglary/Theft (no violence)14 Robbery/Street Crime 25 Fraud/incl. Money Laundering14

18 The Gangs of Waltham Forest The Met. Harm Assessment Scale  Beaumont (30-40)198 (max. score)  Piff City (100)198 (max. score)  Priory Court (20-30)169  Red African Devils (6-10)150 (est.)  Drive (30-40)  Boundary/Monserrat ( 20-30)120  Canhall (30)100  Barrier/Brookscroft (10-20)41.5  Highams Park (5-10) 35  Hackney Overground Communters35  New World Order (6-10) 28  Asian Auto Theft (10) 25+ (est.)  Russian/Lithuanian/Polish Gangs (20)Unknown

19 Reluctant Gangsters: YOT Caseload Survey (N=59) 42% of caseload is gang involved Core Member 312% Regular Member1248% Ambivalent Member 6 24% Reluctant Member 4 16% TOTAL 25 40% of them are Reluctant Gangsters

20 Reluctant Gangsters  They have no previous record, are good school attendees and have a good attitude. But they are coming into the YOT for ‘joint enterprise’ because they were present at the scene.  Some kids say they were made to do things by Elders. Many of them don’t necessarily approve of what they are doing. Most kids would rather be doing something else. But gang culture prevents participation. They are frightened to be seen as a ‘pussy’ or to become a target of violence.

21 Reluctant Gangsters  There were a brother and a sister; he was 15 and she was 14. Never been in trouble. They told them to do a robbery. But they said no. So they beat him up and raped her.  So he tells ‘em ‘fuck off’. Anyway, the next thing he knows, someone’s shot-up his mother’s flat. There’s lots of families round here can’t use their front rooms because of this sort of thing.”

22 Reluctant Gangsters 1. Affiliation because of the risks to oneself and one’s family from non-affiliation 2. Affiliation for protection from other gangs/crews 3. Affiliation to gain access to educational/recreational resources in gang territory 4. Affiliation because of lack of access to legitimate opportunity 5. Continued affiliation because of dangers inherent in leaving the gang

23 Reluctant Gangsters Telling these families to take responsibility for their kids behaviour is like telling them to take their kids into the jungle and take responsibility for them not getting eaten by lions and tigers.

24 The Impact of Gangs: Neighbourhoods For five or six years a group of 16 to 18 years olds was terrorising John Walsh and Fredwig Towers. They would wait at the bottom of the lift and take money, mobile phones, clothes that they fancied, even a dog, from the residents. A younger sister also had these terrible parties in the foyer but nobody complained. The Police had been trying to prosecute for years but because of witness intimidation, residents stayed quiet. These kids came to believe they were untouchable.

25 The Impact of Gangs: Neighbourhoods As far as they are concerned we don ’ t exist, and even if we do, we are just some kind of problem that won ’ t go away. I sometimes think the best thing we could do would be to go out and vote and demand that our politicians listen to what ’ s happening to us.

26 The Impact of Gangs: Schools and Colleges  If they think I did that (told the police) we (my family) will have to leave the country) we have already moved once because of threats from gangs.  One of my year 10 students was recently gang-raped. I talked to her and her mother. They are obviously very frightened and the mother insists that it was consensual. The girl won’t come to counselling because she is afraid of being seen to talk to anyone in authority about it.

27 The Impact of Gangs: Schools and Colleges  In September 2006, students at XXX College reported they were being told not to use the college by members of the CH gang.  FE colleges ‘belong’ to particular gangs. GM is CH’s and B’s, WF College is PC’s, B’s and B1’s  In WF College, in 2006, two members of OC were stabbed by members of D.

28 The Impact of Gangs: The Youth Service Young people and workers are subject to threats and intimidation if we work with non-gang-involved young people in certain areas. I think the danger is that social strategies could be paralysed by territorialism. This is happening in schools and colleges and if it continues we could see the gangs effectively paralysing public services.

29 The Impact of Gangs: The Criminal Justice System We have to bus youngsters in to group work programmes; otherwise it’s just too dangerous They scheduled a B trial and an OC trial on the same day in the same court. Luckily a couple of my officers spotted the guys with the guns and stopped them getting into court, otherwise …

30 How many people are affected by gangs? Core 40 Soldiers 160 Wannabees 250 Reluctant gangsters 250 C&YP directly affected 700 C&YP indirectly affected 1,400 Family members affected 6000

31 Responding to Gangs (OJJDP) 1. Organizational change: Multi-agency working/development 2. Community/professional Leadership 3. Community mobilization: Local citizens and organizations are involved in a common enterprise. 4. Suppression: Arrest and prosecution 5. Social intervention: Reaching YP unconnected with social institutions. 6. Social opportunity: Age appropriate opportunity via multi-agency teams

32 Responding to Gangs Operation Ceasefire (Boston) I 1. Coordinated leverage on gangs through highly publicised multi-agency crackdowns precipitated by certain specified behaviours i.e. possession or use of knives and firearms, harassment and serious assaults. 2. Enhancing community relations to get local support for targeted crackdowns and stimulate community ‘ collective efficacy ’ in informal social control and the reduction of incivilities

33 Responding to Gangs Operation Ceasefire II 3. Engagement with gang members To elicit information, to transmit consistent messages about targeted crackdowns and provide diversionary social, educational, recreational, training and vocational services for members and those on the fringes of the gangs.

34 A Seven Point Gang Strategy for Waltham Forest  Coordinated leverage  Enhancing community relations  Engaging with gang members  Mediation  Targeted Protection  Sensitisation of agencies (Sect. 17 C&DA)  School-based anti-gang-initiatives

35 5 A Four level Gang Intervention Model The Intervention The TargetGroup Level 1.PPO/Police/Trident/ISSP This level of work is undertaken by MMAGS and X-it Targeted intervention with core gang members: Elders/Youngers, enforcement, intensive problem- solving, mediation and the development of alternative futures via education, training and employment Level 2.YIP/ Extended School/FE Colleges and Specialist Voluntary Youth Serving Agencies. This level of work is undertaken by MMAGS, X-it and the Anderlecht Initiative Targeted intervention with Youngers and those seriously ‘at risk’ of serious gang involvement like some overly enthusiastic Wannabees. Intensive problem- solving and the development of alternative futures via education, training and employment Level 3.LA Outreach Team supported by the Police. This level of work is undertaken by the Anderlecht Initiative Targeted intervention with moderately ‘at risk’ and gang- affected groups: lower level; Wannabees and Reluctant Gangsters: problem-oriented and social-educational interventions Level 4.Housing Associations, Schools/LA Outreach Team/Voluntary Youth Serving Agencies/NGOs/Sports Clubs, supported by the Police. This level of work is currently undertaken by the LA Outreach Team and Housing Assns. Area-based (universal) social- educational/ recreational youth and community interventions

36 A Proposed Structure of a Comprehensive Gang Strategy for Waltham Forest Elders Younger Wannabees Reluctant Gangsters Elders Younger Wannabees Reluctant Gangsters Elders Younger Wannabees Reluctant Gangsters Safer Neighbourhoods Team POLICE Targeted Protection School Operational Team Safer Neighbourhoods Team POLICE intelligence-led Policing School Operational Team Waltham Forest Multi-Agency Gang Strategy Team Enforcement Police, Probation, YOT Intelligence and Information Police Social Intervention Social Services, Youth Service, housing Education, Training, Work Education, FE, connexions Mediation Parents Against Violence, Mediators Participation Social Cohesion Worker Waltham Forest Gang Forum Young People Parents/Adults Senior Managers Professionals FOUR LEVEL INTERVENTION Project Coordinator


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