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Gangs & Knife Crime

Tuesday 26th October proved to be an informative and productive day for the MHWB Network. For the morning session, we welcomed Vince Donovan from Safety Solutions Training Limited as he delivered an interactive training session on the theme of Gangs & Knife Crime.

The session invited us to explore our thoughts of the term ‘gang’ and highlighted stereotypical views which have developed over a period of time resulting from societal influence or media portrayal. Discussions encouraged a move away from the term ‘gang’ to phrases such as ‘a group of people involved in criminal activity’.

There were a range of identified reasons as to why people may become involved group criminal activity including:

  • Self esteem

  • Excitement

  • The drive/need to achieve

  • Thoughts of life improvement

  • Family member already involved in group criminal activity

  • Sense of identity or belonging

  • Fear

  • Protection from other gangs

  • Respect

  • Reputation

  • Thoughts of possible financial gain

The important topic of the role of females in street gangs was also raised. It was suggested that reasons behind females becoming involved in gang related activity are complexed and diverse. Jocelyn explained that her research uncovered misconceptions of girls joining groups due to excitement. According to Jocelyn, many of the young females who join groups involved in criminal activity do so without clear knowledge of what they are to become involved in. She expressed that the reasons behind some females joining such groups were as a result of social, economic and health inequalities experienced. Some young people are taken through a process of being targeted then groomed into criminal activity over a period of time.

Vince shared that there are approximately 2,800 known groups involved in criminal activity across the United Kingdom, which are formed as a result of coming together with a shared form of interest. Statistics demonstrate that 60% of the criminal activity of certain groups is related to drugs and an estimated 27,000 children are involved in groups participating in criminal activity, while 6,500 identify themselves as gang members.

What Now?

There is a necessity for professionals to continue grow in knowledge and understanding of groups participating in criminal activity in order to raise awareness and offer adequate suggestions as to how young people and children can keep themselves safe. Initiatives set up in Scotland and Merseyside demonstrate the need for interagency working and sharing best practice with a view toward long term intervention and impact. Craig Pickney suggests there is no quick or simple solution, instead’ “We need to fight the issues in society that create gangs, not the gangs themselves.”

For more information go to Safety Solutions Training, click on sub-heading Course Handouts, in the drop down option you will see the respective handout. I encourage you to download these course hand outs and explore other training opportunities provided by Safety Solutions Training.

I would also like to thank Vince Donovan for sharing the following documents;

For more resources head over to Mentally Healthy Schools

If you would like to get involved with the work of the MHWB Network send an email to

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Yvette Dooley - MHWB Network

Gangs Screening Tool Feb 2016
Download DOC • 115KB


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