Gang Violence is a form of GBV- BUT – What is the Solution?

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Category : Customer Service

By Jennifer Obaseki August 2018

Deaths from gang violence across the United Kingdom is increasing at an alarming rate. In Northern cities of Birmingham and Leeds there has been a decrease in activity however, in Manchester and London Gang activity and feuds have seen a high rise in the number of deaths. Gang activity has also spilled out from London into suburbs into commuter towns due to competition, resettlement of members and the United Kingdom’s populations consistent appetite for drugs.

Much of the stabbings and shootings as a result of Gang activity has not just killed Gang members but sadly many innocent members of the public. Lives have been lost as a result of mistaken identity or simply being caught in the crossfire. But in London gang activity has been brought to the forefront.

Within this article I will analyse some reasons why people join gangs, factors that have fuelled the growth of London Gangs, how they are resourced and possible solutions. As I was making notes about this article there was a stabbing outside my office, the second that week! Having grown up, lived and worked as lawyer off what was and still is called, ‘Murder Miles’, (Elephant& castle straight down to Enfield town), I do have direct knowledge and experience in order to comment. 

“As I was making notes about this article there was a stabbing outside my office, the second that week!”

 Why is Gang Violence a form of GBV?

Gender Based Violence GBV is not a term exclusively used to define crimes perpetrated against females. Acronyms VAW violence against women and GBV are often used interchangeably whereas the Gang Violence we are seeing currently in London is a form of GBV as it is a form of violence including physical abuse and trafficking by a dominant controlling party and it is targeted at majority males and in the case of London ‘Black Males’. However, because it is mainly Black on Black violence people have criticised the poor nature of response from police and government. Cities like New York managed to significantly reduce gang violence when it was deemed a health issue. Given the awful death rates in London and the wider adverse effect gangs have had on communities, it is questionable why Gang crime in London has not been classified as an emergency GBV health issue. Only when gang crime is properly classified will proper state wide initiatives be constructed to deal with the issue. Community groups and social initiatives are not having the necessary significant effect in deterring membership and reducing use of weapons, reduce trafficking, reduce he specific targeting of minors and deaths. 

The statistics show that black males make an average of 13% of the local population in the South East yet make up more than 50% of the victims and perpetrators of Gang violence. This means it is an attack or get attacked culture in some areas. 

Most commonly GBV is inflicted by men on women and girls, so many people especially women’s rights activists would object to gang crime being put under the same umbrella. However, the dynamics of gangs in inner city London has changed so dramatically that it should be.

Factors leading to gangs growth and influence

Most GBV is inflicted by men on women and girls but the dynamics of gangs in inner city London has changed significantly from the 1990s with female gangs and female gang leaders, influx of migrants from Africa central Europe and Asia as a result of global conflicts legitimate migration meant by 2000s there was a solid divergence of gang culture. The British families lived alongside new arrivals eventually mixing and creating a cross demographic within inner cities.

Each gang members were once and innocent child so the factors that lead to gang membership and growth need to be accurately analysed. But when you focus on the psychology of London gang member and the social economic and political factors that have persisted in the last 20 years it is clear that London Gang Violence is not a shocking phenomenon but an inevitable consequence of failed government specifically welfare, education, social, immigration, policing policies. The families of gang members (that have not joined for protection or influence) all tend to have similar social backgrounds and problems lack of household income as a result of government cutbacks and had to deal with Austerity ((1) 2006). Then the few that were just surviving were further crushed by the Recession and massive job losses robbing of pension funds 2008When a parent is out looking for work or working as many hours as they can and there are no childcare or youth clubs the streets and the internet can be a fertile ground to influence young minds for band and for good but where the child will gravitate and what will impact the child’s mind is simple, it is subjective influences, objective influences and need.

 Growth of Gangs and their influence on Youth

London Gangs have changed from the feisty cuffs, occasional shootings and racially divided groups of the 60s. There has been an evolution due to factors such as migration, female equality and the internet. Female gangs and female gang leaders, influx of migrants from Africa, central Europe and Asia as a result of global conflicts legitimate migration meant by 2000s there was a solid divergence of gang culture. Most recently the Australian far right senator spoke of banning migrants from Australia blaming, them for increased gang activity. In Europe we have seen the growth of political parties and again blaming groups/ gangs of migrants for criminal activities. However, many of these political factions fail to accurately analyses history, usually missing out periods of oppression, discrimination and failures in government policy. The fact is if you any group of people, but especially vulnerable migrants in an area without ensuring it does not become deprived (with poor housing and lack of social economic resources) and then discriminate against directly or indirectly, they are likely to congregate and retaliate in various ways.

The evolution of London Gangs has been from the 60s. British families lived alongside new arrivals despite barriers there has been a fusion of culture and cohesion of diaspora communities, creating a cross demographic within inner cities. It is important to remember each gang member was once and innocent child. Factors that lead that child into gang membership and the growth of gangs needs to be accurately analysed. It is therefore important to focus on the psychology of the average London gang member (currently aged 12years to mid-30s) is increasing! Meaning members are staying or committed for longer period. The social economic and political factors that have persisted in that individual’s life in their formidable 20 is key to forming their character. It is clear that London Gang Violence is not a shocking phenomenon but on analysis it is an inevitable consequence of failed government specifically welfare, education, social, immigration, policing policies.

Those gang members that are, ‘Average’ tend to come from more influential households not reliant on state schooling or support in anyway. Therefore, these individuals join gangs for protection influence or alternatively because of the aims and ideology of the group, (Religion, Music). The families of average gang members (that have not joined for protection or influence) tend to have similar ‘social’ backgrounds not limited but including common problems lack of household income as a result of government cutbacks, had to deal with Austerity in the 2000s. During this time families that were just surviving in this period were later crushed by the recession in 2008 and the massive job losses that followed. But other social ills were seen as depletion of pension funds 2008, bank crashes and fat cats simply getting fatter which demonstrated to the youth of the day that hard work does not necessity pay.

When a parent is out looking for work or working as many hours as they can without affordable childcare or have local youth clubs closed, then the streets and the internet can become fertile grounds to influence their children’s young minds either for band and for good. What will impact the child’s mind and actions is very simple, it is the subjective influences, objective influences and the child’s needs. The economic recession in United Kingdom and continued growth of the poverty gap means we had a generation of highly vulnerable children with extensive needs. The disconnect and in fact omission by politicians, front line workers coupled with the lack of training meant the growth of gangs happened before their very eyes. Children in these families either pulled through or realised, living on the edge they could always not rely on the state.

The UKs climb out of the recession was assisted by a combination of factors including growth of the underground economy, sustenance of EU workers as well as government fiscal measures. But then as more jobs and employment opportunity grew it was restricted by hesitation in investment and lack of stability and need for automation in the digital age. This lead to the birth of the gig economy, zero hours and work instability. More importantly the youth now young adults no longer had grants like their parents to go to university and could also see that a job is no longer for life and hard work and honesty did not always pay. 

 Children from ethnic families were more vulnerable and susceptible to gangs and radicalisation in this period. Alongside the economic barriers being experienced by all, ethnic families also continued to face discrimination, institutional racism and abuse so some gangs did grow specifically with racial divides. Different ethnic groups that were once divided 9 Jamaican, West African, East African, North African Turkish, Kurdish, Greek, Irish eastern, European and Russian AND Romanian, YOUTH began sympathising with each other, collaborating for common causes and ultimately gangs working strategically along parts of their operations together to secure results and profits. These factors are exactly why, at the same time there was a growth of radicalisation.

The economic recession in United Kingdom and continued growth of the poverty gap meant we had a generation of vulnerable children with needs. The disconnect between politicians front line workers (social workers police and lack of training and funding) and families living on the edge made people feel they could not rely on the state. So we had few families and individuals that managed to survive the main stream and those that did not  

 The UKs climb out of the recession was assisted by a combination of factors including growth of the underground economy, sustenance of EU workers as well as government fiscal measures. But then as more jobs and employment opportunity grew it was restricted by hesitation in investment and lack of stability and need for automation in the digital age. This lead to the birth of the gig economy, zero hours and work instability. More importantly the youth now young adults no longer had grants like their parents to go to university and could also see that a job is no longer for life and hard work and honesty did not always pay. 

Children from ethnic families were more vulnerable and susceptible to gangs and radicalisation. This is due to the fact that alongside the economic barriers being experienced by all, ethnic families also continued to face discrimination, institutional racism and abuse. Different ethnic groups that were once divided began sympathising with each other, collaborating for common causes and ultimately gangs working together to secure profits. These factors are exactly why at the same time there was a growth of radicalisation.

 The factors that lead to growth in gangs and extremist organisations and radicalisation are very similarThe psychology of the any adult gang members today has come from a generation that has seen the government wage War against counties based on false information with no repercussions, seen unfairness delayed enquiries, discrimination, gentrification and lack of social justice, witnessing deaths in police, custody abuse of police power, stop and search topped off with austerity recession. Meaning the generation growing up seeing their parents struggling with these issues not just opted out of the rat race but were already disenfranchised from mainstream society.

 By the time these children had become young adults they had lost faith in the state and had a level of reliability security from the gangs and therefor a level of allegiance. These Gangs were not just a place to hang out but also provided a listening ear, a pack mentality so instantly made them as individuals more confident and stronger. Also the members had common issues and in some cases had like mines that shared their more radical views. Hence the Group /Gang /Cell starts catering for their NEEDS and they did not feel disenfranchised. These notions and justifications for affiliating with gangs was fuelled when there was implementation of tougher immigration 2012 rules and continuation of austerity and then growth of gentrification by the state making many inner city homes unaffordable meant the states negative actions were personal and in their homes.

The state as a result is seen by some gang members as the common enemy, the perpetrator of the groups’, leading to increased rebellion against the state. Fusion of ethnic groups and digital technology has also propelled the growth of gangs. The sheer lack of understanding and underestimation of the reach and power of gangs has meant they have grown into organised entities with significant control not just on estates, local streets and boroughs but in actual sectors of the mainstream and underground economies.

 Factors leading to Gang membership

The risk of losing their lives, being arrested and even deported has not deterred the rapid growth in gang membership. Gang membership is not always an independent wilful choice. Sometimes memberships subscribe to due protection, poverty and duress. But the growth in the poverty gap has a meant many gang members have it as the only option in situations of poverty. The Historical hierarchy of gangs and gang structures specifically in the UK has changed. Gone are the days that Mediterranean and middle eastern gangs stuck to import and distribution of drugs and people. Irish and English gangs clearing and dividing dictating distribution channels and Asian and black gangs owning territories. Many gangs are no longer divided along ethnic or borough lines meaning the police have not limited intelligence among foot soldiers. Informants now so valuable that they have the power over officers leaving the police constantly on the back foot on key illegal activities of trafficking, prostitution drug distribution and robberies.

Difference between Radicalisation and criminalisation

Distinctions between radical groups and gangs are not so obvious. Is a gang a radicalised group are radicalised groups gangs? They do have many common traits, but the aims and ideology between the groups is sometimes the only distinction. Harmful extremist views are reflected in both criminal gangs, religious extremist groups and racists groups. All have common traits. But is the aims and objectives of the group that distinguish the groups but vulnerability, membership pack mentality illegal activity are all common traits of. 

Power and influence amongst gangs is now fused, it is about equal opportunity and bring in profits no matter your ethnicity or your sex. In addition, the growth of the digital age has brought gang activity profits and notoriety to the public domain with many members flaunting cash and jewellery on social media as an advertising tool for recruitment. The fact is many of the low level foot soldiers are astute, skilled digitally and want more so want to rise fast within the ranks to gain respect and authority. Way you rise are activities which includes committing crimes including murder but also money laundering and innovation because gangs have graduated and realised cash is king.

 If effected by any issues or for more information email: solicitors@legalpaal.com

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