This blog is all that remains from the former website which was closed after 8 years of providing a 'wiki' of urban street gangs in London.

An unfinished history of modern urban street gangs in London has been used to replace some of the content of the original site, beginning here

Thursday, 29 March 2012

Problem families or beleaguered families?

London Metropolitan University research study, emerging research on the Role of families, in co-ordination with Catch 22

Problem families or beleaguered families?

Professor Simon Hallsworth and Senior Research Fellow Tara Young

Contextualising the emerging findings of Catch22 funded research into the relationship between gang members and their families.

Recent years have seen growing concern about urban street gangs and the threat they pose to public safety. In this context, most serious urban violence and shootings have been attributed to gangs, along with control of the drugs trade, the sexual abuse of women and, to varying degrees, the urban disorders of 2011. Gang members, it is widely claimed, are mainly the product of 'broken' or 'problem' families, headed either by irresponsible parents who cannot or will not control their young (who then find solace in their gang); or by parents and elder siblings who actively encourage their young people to embrace a delinquent gang culture and lifestyle.

In this analysis, the root cause of gangs is seen to lie within unstable failing families described by some as a 'feral underclass' - and their failure to parent appropriately. The resulting policy responses stress the need to intervene in 'problem' families in order to prevent wider gang formation and violence. This factor is seen as the key to successful policy intervention, often to the exclusion of others.

But how accurate are these assumption about families and their relation to the problem of gangs? Are problem families the root cause of gangs? Are the families of gang members always 'broken'? Is the failure to parent appropriately the reason why young people escape to the streets and join gangs? How far do family members actively encourage their young to join gangs? And what lessons can be learned about the family's role in young people ceasing their gang involvement?

In this paper we draw on the emerging findings of research conducted by London Metropolitan University, commissioned by Catch22, which explores the relationship between gangs and families to examine these questions. We conclude by drawing out some policy implications.

Provisional findings

Our findings collaborate wider theories of gang formation. These see family dynamics as neither a necessary nor a sufficient condition for the formation of gangs, whose origins lie predominantly outside the family. The role of the family may be a factor in some cases, but it would be dangerous to overstate its significance as a cause of gang formation or involvement.

From interviews conducted with family members of gang-involved young people and practitioners who work with them, far from finding evidence or irresponsible families producing children who run wild and go on to join gangs, we found:

  • Gang members come from all kinds of family circumstances: This is not just an issue for 'broken' families.
  • The families of most gang members did their best to encourage their young people to embrace a law abiding existence and did their best to discipline their young.
  • Families often expressed dismay when they discovered their young people were gang affiliated.
  • They experienced considerable difficulty in countering the 'pull' factors of the street, particularly as young people reached adolescence and were breaking away from the private sphere of the household.

From interviews conducted with gang members we found that:

  • Gang members typically respected their families and family life.
  • They did their best to hide their gang lives from their families.
  • Even if they experienced family life as difficult (and a number did) most saw the decision to become part of a gang as their choice. Their families, in most cases were not identified by them as a causal factor in their decision to join gangs.
  • While this was the case for most interviewed, a small minority did identify having other siblings already involved in gangs as a reason why they also became involved.
  • While families were unhappy about the way of life adopted by the younger generation, a number adopted an ambivalent attitude to the money they acquired through crime.
  • Gang members talked about the importance of a supportive family in supporting them to exit gangs.

More generally we found evidence to suggest that a number of families from which gang members came experienced a range of problems. The issues was not so much that they did not care about their young people. Rather, the many pressures that bore in on families made parenting difficult. These issues included illnesses and addictions, and not least absent parents.

In a social world where many of the families we spoke to were struggling to make ends meet in a low wage economy; where unemployment and under-employment were facts of life; and that involved caring for what were often large extended families; what we found was less the 'problem family' of popular mythology but rather, beleaguered families who wanted to do the right thing but often in difficult circumstances.

Policy implications

These findings challenge some of the assumptions behind the current thinking around gang intervention policy.

  • They contest the widely held vision of the gang member as a product of 'broken' and irresponsible families with poor parenting skills.
  • They also contest the assumption that the 'problem family' is the root cause of gangs.
  • While the research identifies areas where intervention is needed to support beleaguered families, the findings suggest that the approach to dealing with a beleaguered family needs to be very different in philosophy and practice than that which follows from considering them as 'broken' and problematic.
  • As part of this, we need to support families to be part of the solution in helping young people to exit gangs.

Talk to Catch22

Call: 020 7336 4800



Monday, 26 March 2012

Breaking the Negative Cycle

As we try to uncover all the good work going on in London, we stumbled across this blog by Emeka Egbuonu, Consequences: Breaking the Negative Cycle

About – Emeka Egbuonu (on Twitter @Emeka_bnc)

Emeka Egbuonu is a youth worker for the Crib Youth Project. He grew up in Hackney and as a teenager was a member of the youth project, himself. He now helps run the project and works with young people in several workshops like the media program which helps young people to learn to filming and editing skills. Entrepreneur workshops called YBM’s “Young Business Minds” encourages young people to think about a future career and to think about starting their own businesses.

Emeka first started working with young people when he was 18, as football coach. In this role he was able to bring together young people from different areas to play football together, through love of the game.

Emeka coached Gems FC, an under 16’s team for 2 years during which time he won 4 trophies. Using a football as a tool, then building relationships and eventually using that trust to help push them forward.

Since that time Emeka he has been actively volunteering in the community and working for an organisation aimed at helping young people not in education or employment (NEET) to assert themselves and to move forward in life.

East Harlem Juvenile Gang Task Force: 2011 Needs Assessment and Strategic Plan

By Raye Barbieri, Christopher Watler, John Megaw, Susanna Osorno-Crandall and Bryn Herrschaft
This Needs Assessment documents the findings of a year-long investigation of youth violence in East Harlem. The Strategic Plan contains recommendations for gang prevention, intervention and suppression approaches.
To download documents see here (also can download below)

Friday, 23 March 2012

Teenagers who punch their way out of a corner

i-Independent Print Ltd

March 23, 2012

First Edition

Peter Popham and Richard Garner

Violent and disruptive teenagers excluded from their school classes should be dispatched to a new wave of alternative education boot camps to save them from gang life, the Education Secretary said last night.

Michael Gove praised a pioneering boxing academy in a London borough badly hit by the August riots as a "shining example" of how to transform the lives of teenagers who would otherwise fall into gang life.

The Hackney Boxing Academy, which is part-sponsored by charitable donations to Sport Relief, acts as a last resort for pupils who would otherwise be permanently excluded from schools because of their behaviour. It has been dubbed "boxing boot camp" and insists on rigorous discipline and adherence to simple rules.

Transgressions are punished by hundreds of press-ups. And the academy has remarkable success: more than 90 per cent of its pupils - who are mostly Afro-Caribbean teenage boys - graduate on to further education, training or employment.

"We need more schools like it to drive up the quality of academic standards of alternative education," Mr Gove said.

Charlie Taylor, the Government's behaviour tsar, also demanded the establishment of more schools like the Boxing Academy. "I think they're doing a terrific job," he said yesterday.

More than 37,000 schoolchildren in England and Wales are judged too difficult for their schools to handle and are dumped in Pupil Referral Units.

Take Adam, aged 15, who has been at the Hackney Boxing Academy a week after abusing teachers and punching a boy in the face. Facing permanent exclusion from classes Adam was sent to the academy as a last resort. "We take those who are absolutely not working out in the mainstream schools," says Anna Cain, 41, the Academy's founder and director. "They stay here from age 13 to 16 and they do extremely well with us."

Each of the 30 children at the academy is allocated to a "pod" with a pod leader - an experienced boxer - who stays with the group day in, day out, and is professionally trained. The Boxing Academy has been called "boot camp" and it's not far off: the keynotes are discipline, commitment, and strict, simple rules consistently applied.

"We go far further than any school in involving ourselves in their lives," says Ms Cain. "We are absolutely changing lives."

Back on track

Other youth crime projects helped by Sports Relief funding include the Track Academy in Brent, north London, run by Connie Henry, a former Commonwealth Games medal-winning triple jumper. She takes children at risk of exclusion and promotes athletic potential using professional coaches. One of her current charges, Confidence Lawson, a former gang member, is now ranked the 12th fastest runner in the UK. "After joining us he slowly learned discipline and his attitude began to change", Ms Henry says. Lawson has found a job and a university place, after Ms Henry threatened to bar him from training if he did not get his act together.

Another supported project is the Glasgow charity FARE - where violent crime has dropped almost 40 per cent in five years, partly due to the project.

99% Campaign Blog: Promoting a positive image of young people


And we have lift off... 

The 99% Campaign Blog has been launched, and it's opening month has already brought with it fiery debate about the discriminatory effects of 'stop and search' practices, questions raised around the purpose of higher education, and a remarkable showcase of art produced by young offenders.

The 99% Blog is a journalistic platform written and run entirely by young people. This format ensures that young people are able to discuss issues that bear directly on their own lives, countering the fact that young people often find themselves marginalised and muted on the issues they are most affected by. The Blog also acts to challenge prevailing stereotypes about young people, and the kind of negative coverage that we often find littered throughout the mainstream media.

Below you can get a preview of some of this month's content, and you can add this blog to your RSS feedhere, or subscribe to the blog to receive regular updates on our home page here...

*All views expressed in this article are the author’s. IARS accepts no responsibility for the accuracy, completeness, suitability, or validity of any views expressed in these articles and will not be liable for any errors or omissions in this information or any losses or damages arising from its display or use. 
The real world effects of 'stop and search'

Amongst public discussion of the different merits and drawbacks of 'stop and search' tactics, one voice has been consistently missing; namely the young people who find themselves on the receiving end of these measures.

99% journalist Monique Lane provides a biting critique of 'stop and search', on both moral and practical grounds, generating a debate which is still bubbling away in the comments section.

The article takes issue with the discriminatory way in which stop and search has been applied, and the common refrain that people who aren't on the wrong side of the law have nothing to worry about. As Monique notes, "Being stopped and searched by the police is embarrassing and humiliating. It usually happens in public, so anyone watching assumes that you’ve done something wrong... Whilst researching, I discovered that black people are seven times more likely than white people to be stopped and searched by the police."

Read more here.
What prisoner arts programmes can teach us about ourselves

Volunteer journalistIsabel Chapman offers a fascinating, and very telling look at a range ofart produced by offenders; and glimpses some of the implications this has for the way we view punishment, rehabilitation, and criminality.

"The prevalent sense of release and freedom in the majority of the work was undeniable; from the paintings inspired by biblical references to the songs and poetry inspired by the artist’s own, often harrowing, experiences. Escapism is depicted in images of funfairs, beaches and a childlike model of a wizard’s house."

Having pointed out the therapeutic and rehabillatory effects of these programmes, Isabel goes on to ask why they make so many of us feel unconfortable, noting other important side benefits. "Not only does the work aim to encourage artists or participants to reassess their own capabilities, self-worth and the future, but as we visit such exhibitions as outsiders, we are provided with a very small insight into the fascinating, stark reality of custody. There is an enormous amount we can also learn from the misconceptions of offenders and detainees."

Read more here. ..
Get involved!

We are looking for young people to write articles, news stories and opinion pieces that will seek to promote the positive contributions that young people make to society, and cover issues that bear directly on young people lives. For more information click here, or
"Unpaid internships do nothing to help social mobility"

..Or so goes the claim made by volunteer journalist Manon, in herpiece on the exploitative nature of full time, unpaid internships.

Manon first reflects on her experience trying to find paid work in Parliament, which she was told would be unlikely unless she was willing to work without pay for six months, before looking what this means for our idea of equal opportunity. "I fear that many graduates from less affluent backgrounds, as well as those already burdened with thousands of pounds of student debt, cannot afford to take advantage of these opportunities." Small wonder, she argues, positions in Parliament are drawn from such a narrow, priviliged sector of society.

The article also looks at the story of those who manage to gain an internship, and the way they are so often misled into expecting a paid position at the end, and then discarded, unable to complain for fear of jeaopardising their reference. Manon contends that in this widespread practice, employers are in fact breaking national minimum wage laws, and harming social mobility. As she notes: “They no longer lead to paid jobs, they are replacing paid jobs.”

Copyright © 2011 Independent Academic Research Studies All rights reserved.

Wednesday, 21 March 2012

New London Street Gangs Blog

Dear all,

Welcome to the new London Street Gangs blogsite.

A decision was made to remove the old blogsite due to a libel claim. The old blogsite was essentially a collection, or library, of gang related news articles copied from various national broadsheets and local London newspapers.

The site was potentially infringing numerous copyright laws and with a collection of secondary articles totalling more than 5,000 reports there are numerous opportunities there to be sought for action against us in the future.

To reduce the potential for any future libel claims this new blogsite has been re-invented with an opportunity to publicise from a different angle.

We will continue to report and incorporate information regarding London Street Gangs at - however, this blogspot has been amended to provide a new free service, a platform and a positive outlook.

We would like to use the London Street Gangs Blogspot to:

- Store information on individuals and groups working in the field of youth justice and gangs

- Publish articles that aim to fairly represent the situation facing London with regard to gangs and youth crime - accurately from neutral perspective, no more hype!

- Highlight successes in working with gangs and groups of young people

- We would welcome practitioners and volunteers to use the blog as somewhere they can share their ideas and successes and communicate with others in this field (if you wish to submit an article then please do, we are happy to publish your thoughts)

- We would also like to have articles written by young people on their take, and to highlight all the good things they are out there doing but not necessarily getting publicity for

- We will continue to use the blog to promote events and services for others

On a hype hype!!! A positive hype hype!

London's 66,000 guns - by Michael Story from chichard41 on Vimeo.

Robyn Travis' new book coming soon, "Freedom from the Womb, Prisoner to the Streets"...more details to come

The highly anticipated book "Freedom from the Womb, Prisoner to the Streets" is soon to be unleashed. 
The book promises to be one young man's journey through the streets of Hackney and Tottenham, and the truth behind some of Britain's most publicised 'gang wars'. 

From the borough level between Hackney and Tottenham to the first ever 'post code war', between London Fields and Holly Street, this is the real deal. 

If you are hoping to find a tale akin to the likes of Bullet Boy and Top Boy, you won't. This is not a drama, nor a stereotype like what you find in so many books which write about the ends from the outside looking in. This story comes deep from within the heart of it's subject. 

The police, government and media have told you their side of the story and how they perceive it on countless occasions. But now it's time to hear from those who have lived it...

Click here to contact Robyn / add at Facebook

Interesting and pointless stats on London gangs (plus 'high harm' gangs map)

Number of Gangs

The first London Street Gangs list and estimate was in 2005/06, a figure of 201 gangs in London (See article here, no longer available online) – this figure omitted outer London post code areas.

Following this in 2007, a Met Police document was leaked which said they had identified 169 (See here), this was soon followed less than a year later with a revised estimate of 257 (See here, powered by Google document viewer).

In 2008 we began to include outer London post code area gangs which inflated the number to 250 across Greater London. On 2nd September 2011 (in Gang Statistics: The Truth about the number of gangs and gang members, see further down for article link), we stated clearly that of the 250 we had identified there were just 90 which were involved in rivalries that had resulted in murders.

It was following this post that we listed up to 70 ‘serious gangs’ also on 2nd September 2011, however, this was removed.

On the 30th September 2011, a month after we had published the article on the number of gangs, the Met Police gangs taskforce known as ‘Op Connect’ delivered a presentation on London gangs (See here). Within the presentation it states clearly that there are over 100 gangs in London with over 2,000 members. Also in September 2011, the Met Police responded to an FOI which stated that they were aware of 304 gangs (See here).

In February 2012, the Met Police launched their new gang offensive and clearly stated that they now knew of 250 active gangs. It was the first time they had ever been straight forward and confident with their figure. What’s more, they had clearly identified 62 ‘serious harm’ gangs.

We already published a figure for 250 for three years before the Met Police, our figures have been fairly consistent for several years, whereas during the last five months the Met have quoted figures of 100 and 304 leading up to ‘their’ 250 figure. We also identified up to 70 ‘serious gangs’ five months before the Met declared they had identified 62.

We will not re-print the names of those gangs, but we have mapped the distribution of the 250 active gangs by borough, and also the distribution of the 60-70 serious gangs. Points are plotted to give an indication of where these gangs are active.

Distribution of London’s 250 gangs
Distribution of London’s “high harm” gangs

Number of Gang Members: See article from 2nd September 2011, ‘Gang statistics: The truth about the number of gangs and gang members’.

Gang Names

What’s in a gang name? Of London’s 250 gangs 68% take their name from a local area, street or housing estate. This was significantly below that average for outer London gangs, just 42% of which derived their name from local areas, streets and housing estates.

Many gangs and cliques have names which make reference to money, such as ABM (All Bout Money), Doe Makers (E17), EC1 (Easy Cash), Get Money Gang (EN3), Get Money Gangsterz (SE25), Get Doe (W2), in Ilford there are MCE (Money Comes Easy) and MOD (Mainly On Doe), Maximum Profit (Acton), MDP (Money Drugs Pussy), MPR (Make Paper Regardless), Money Hungry (N4), P-Town (N13), in South Kilburn FAC (Family About Cash) and MMF (Money Motivated Fam), and in Wood Green MOB (Money Over Bitches) or PBP (Paper Before Pussy).

Just over half of London’s gang identify with colours, or use a colour in their gang name (i.e. Black Gang, Grey Gang and so on). The most commonly ‘flagged’ colour in London is red, used by 13% of gangs, this is followed by blue, used by 9% of gangs. The next most common are green (7%), black (6%) and grey (6%).

Some gang names are drawn from particular nations or ethnic groups in London, for example Hellbanianz, Real Albanian Gangsters and Albanian Troops (Albanian-Kosovan), or North London Somali’s, Camden Marlies and Deptford Marlies (Somali). In Croydon the Jaffna Boys take their name from a settlement in Sri Lanka, whilst in one small section of north-west London there are ‘Congolese Section’, ‘Kurdz Taking Over’ and ‘Bengali Green Manz’.

Gang Activity

NB: All the information we have regarding ‘gang activity’ is drawn from court reports and articles regarding crime committed by gangs/gang members. This is unfairly subjective as in some cases a crime committed by an individual is being attributed to an entire collective. For example, the murder of a person by a gang member would count the suspects gang as being involved in homicide, even if no other members of the gang had any direct involvement.

One prolific offender, amongst a group, can potentially raise a gangs harm score and attract police attention and resources towards potentially ‘harmless’ young men, and subsequently possibly contributing to their development into habitual offenders.

Percentage of currently active gangs that have been involved in:
  • Reported Homicide: 32% LSG Site 2012 (no Met Police comparison available). Surprisingly, this is slightly higher in Outer London (36%) compared to Inner London (32%).
  • Reported Firearms Use: 51% LSG Site 2012 (Met Police estimated 45% in 2007), firearm use was slightly higher in Inner London boroughs when compared to Outer London boroughs (51% of gangs compared to 50%).
  • Reported Violence: 71% LSG Site 2012 (Met Police estimated 88% in 2011). This was surprisingly slightly higher in Outer London boroughs in comparison to Inner London boroughs (72% of gangs compared to 70%).
  • Reported Involvement in Drug Sales: 75% LSG Site 2012 (Met Police estimated 80% in 2011). This was higher for Inner London borough gangs when compared with Outer London borough gangs (76% of gangs compared to 73%).
Almost a quarter of gangs (or members of those gangs), have reportedly been involved in several serious criminal activity types including firearms, serious violence, robbery, drug supply and murder. A further 26% are reportedly involved in at least three or more of those activities but not all of them. For the remaining 50% of gangs, it is less than three of those listed activities or simply not known for certain.

Of the 250 active gangs in London approximately half (51%) use internet technology to perpetuate the image of the gang and affirm its existence (i.e. YouTube videos, MySpace and Facebook profiles and other websites).

Although we could find evidence that 71% of gangs had been involved in violent incidents only 56% are known to be in frequent active conflicts.

Gang Statistics: Truth About the Number of Gangs & Gang Members

Gang Statistics: The Truth About the Number of Gangs & Gang Members

Number of Gangs in London

169/171 Estimate Metropolitan Police 2006

This is perhaps the most quoted estimate on the number of London gangs, devised by the Metropolitan Police. It includes everything from graffiti crews (such as ‘United Graffin Squad’) to more serious street gangs such as the Peckham Boys. It also included organised crime groups such as the Turkish-Kurdish gangs of north London – Tottenham Boys and Bombacillar. Furthermore, many gangs identified by the Metropolitan Police were urban music crews.

The list is actually largely inaccurate and it frequently lists the same gangs more than once thus inflating the actual number of identified gangs. For example, in Waltham Forest the Metropolitan Police list of 169/171 gangs identified 11 operating in the borough. Accounting for duplication there were actually only 8. Waltham Forest was listed as having the fifth highest number of gangs after Hackney (22), Enfield (13), Lambeth (13) and Merton (12).

The list for Waltham Forest was as follows:
  • Beaumont Crew
  • Boundary Boys
  • Chingford Hall Boys
  • Piff City Bangers
  • Oliver Close Crew
  • Get Money Daily
  • Cathall Boys
  • Senyahs
  • Walthamstow Boys
  • Walnut Road Crew
  • Paki Panthers
The duplications are as follows:
Chingford Hall Boys and Piff City Bangers are one in the same, both hailing from the Chingford Hall Estate. The Oliver Close Crew exists on the estate around Walnut Road therefore here being duplicated as Walnut Road Crew. The Cathall Boys are duplicated as ‘Senyahs’ – Senyah being the name of ‘Sylvester Senyah’, alleged leader of the Cathall Boys who was murdered by a rival from the Beaumont Crew in 2010.
When duplication is accounted for, the Metropolitan Police identification of 169/171 gangs is actually much lower at 118 gangs.

Other errors of the list are the inclusion of gangs which no longer existed at the time of the report, whilst others have simply never been substantiated. For example, who has heard of the ‘Chopsticks Gang’ in Enfield or the ‘Fatal Assassins’ in Bromley - and how about the ‘Academic Kids’ in Hillingdon?

They have yet to gain the infamy of established gangs such as London Fields and Holly Street in Hackney.

Of the list, just over 100 of the gangs were believed to have been responsible for anti-social behaviour whilst only around 20 were believed to have been involved in murders.

257 estimate Southwark Community Safety Unit 2007

In 2007 the Evening Standard listed London’s 257 gangs. The figure came from a presentation prepared by ‘gang expert’ Jonathan Toy (Head of Community Safety in Southwark) and Nicola Lockwood (Tackling Violent Crime Co-ordinator, Southwark).

The actual list was again wrongly duplicating numerous gangs thus inflating the previous figure of 169 by a massive 52%. Of the list of 257 gangs, which can be viewed here, there were 52 duplicate records (1 in 5). Furthermore, 9% of entries, or 23 gang names, were defunct gangs from prior to the early 2000’s. There was also 24 ‘special interest groups’, namely graffiti crews or taggers and urban music crews.

40 Gangs Identified in Lambeth, claims report 2008

Vauxhaul Professor John Pitts in some of his recent works talks about research he conducted with Lambeth which identified 40 gangs located in the borough. Again, the list was riddled with errors which largely inflated the true figure. Although Pitts is often quoted as the author of the research and list for Lambeth, the data came from S.Mahomed from the Metropolitan Police Gang Survey in August 2007 (click here to see presentation with list).

Below is the list with errors highlighted:
  • Acre Lane Campaign (correct – also music crew)
  • Alligator Crew (defunct – refer to case of Van Phu Nguyen 2004)
  • Bloodset Muslim (probably refers to 031 Bloods)
  • Brixton Yard Manz (not a gang name, just a reference to Yardie gang members in Brixton)
  • Cartel Crew (defunct – refer to case of Dion Holmes 1999)
  • Clapham Park Dread (unknown)
  • The Crypts (probably refers to ‘Crips’ in the borough)
  • Dipset Muslim (unknown)
  • Fully Equipped (alleged gang Billy Cox belonged to)
  • Gipset Taliban (Gipset from Gypsy Hill and West Norwood)
  • G-Street (correct)
  • Hannah Town (inactive)
  • Herne Hill Mandem (probably refers to Herne City – Peabody Estate)
  • Hotspots (refers to ABM gang from Stockwell)
  • Junction Boys (defunct gang from Wandsworth borough)
  • K-Town (see case of Alex Kamodo Mulumba in 2006)
  • Loughborough Soldiers (correct)
  • Man Dem Crew (unknown)
  • Marcus Garvey Boys (unknown, possibly name given by police)
  • Mash Force (music crew)
  • Murderzone (correct, now inactive)
  • Myatts Field Posse (probably refers to OC)
  • OC (correct)
  • O Trey One (031 Bloods, duplicate)
  • Paid In Full (correct)
  • Poverty Driven Children (correct, although no longer viewed as criminal gang)
  • Peel Dem Crew (duplicate of Poverty Driven Children)
  • Real Somalian Soldiers (unknown)
  • Rema Crew (inactive)
  • SMN Heathset (from London Borough of Croydon)
  • South Mandem (unknown)
  • Stick’em Up Kids (from London Borough of Wandsworth)
  • Stockwell Mandem (unknown, could refer to one of several gangs but not a gang name)
  • Stockwell Park Crew (duplicate, probably referring to ABM/Hotspot)
  • Streatham Mandem (not a gang name)
  • S.Unit (unknown)
  • Superstar Gang (unknown)
  • Surrey Lane Soldiers (London Borough of Wandsworth)
  • SW2 Boys (unknown, could refer to several gangs within this area)
  • Tulse Hill Mandem (correct, unofficial name for a collective)
  • Tulse Hill Thugs (correct)
  • Valley Crew (probably refers to SMS – South Man Syndicate, often referred to in media as Muslim Boys)
  • VMD (unknown)
There are actually fewer than 20 gangs within the list substantiated that were active in Lambeth at the time of the research when discounting duplication, unknowns and those not located within the borough of Lambeth.

2011 (updated periodically since 2005) London Street Gangs Website (now closed down)

There is no claim here that our list is infallible or without error, although it is certainly more accurate than official records that have been made available publicly. However, it must be used with caution. There is a high number of named groups available on site, however, it encompasses a wide range of “gangs”.

Great difficulty lies in producing the list because of the vast array of definitions as to what constitutes a gang. The ‘gang experts’ of this world have yet to agree on what a gang is, and it is likely that this will continue for many more years because the fluid nature of gang membership, youth and group offending is far too complex for us to simply view as an issue of “gangs”.

All groups listed have members that have been involved in crime, but ascertaining whether or not their crimes were a result of, or motivated by, gang membership is almost impossible to know. A majority of groups listed are less serious in nature with offending going little beyond fights with rival areas, minor crimes of theft or robbery and drug use – acts which are at some point participated in by many youths both in and out of gangs and not confined to working class or deprived areas.

The reason many less serious gangs, or groups of young people, have been included in our list is because they have a collective identity, a group name and an attachment to a local area and in most cases a similar group that they consider as a rival. Proving that these lesser groups, or any street gang for that matter, exist solely to participate in illegal activity is also near impossible, yet this is one of the key definers agreed upon by ‘experts’.

There are currently 250 active gangs listed on the website together with a further 120 inactive or defunct gangs that have existed since the 1970’s. Furthermore, 380 cliques or sub-sets of larger gangs are listed beneath the main gang or umbrella term.

Of those 250 currently active gangs listed on the site there are 90 which have been involved in rivalries that have resulted in murders. This represents just 35% of the total. Some of these rivalries have resulted in just one casualty whilst other gangs such as some of those in Peckham, Brixton, New Cross and Brent have been responsible for multiple killings. The boroughs with the highest number of gangs that have been involved in murders are Lambeth (11), Hackney (10), Lewisham (8), Newham (8), Brent (6), Haringey (6) and Southwark (6).

More importantly, the list includes up to 100 gangs that could be considered less serious (what may be termed ‘Peer Groups’). Amongst these are multiple groups of young people who have a collective identity, a group name and a territory which they consider themselves to control. These groups engage in fights with rival areas and may participate in other less-serious offending such as street robbery against local youths. However, crimes of extreme violence, use of real firearms and the control of serious organised criminality are not present.

Also within this list are what some gang experts might deem ‘Speciality Groups’ – gangs that specialise in a particular activity. Some of these less serious gangs that have a name and a territory have found no rivals to challenge them due to their geography in outer London and absence of similar groups nearby. These groups include some individuals who participate in the drugs trade, as individuals rather than as a group, and others who participate in economic crimes such as street robbery or burglary.

Gang Lists

The problem with gang lists is that they never acknowledge the great variation in types of activity carried out by individuals belonging to the gangs. Some gangs, a minority, in London are involved in the importation and distribution of drugs, serious violence and murders. Yet many more are involved in localised area ‘battles’ and lower level thefts and robberies.

The exercise of listing gangs is failed by a lacking consensus of what a gang is. If you were to ask many of the young men (and women) attached to these groups what they thought, they would often strongly deny or resists the gang label to replace it with ‘family’ or ‘movement’ in attempts to remove the negative stereotyping that comes with the term gang.

As it is, there is no accurate figure with regard to the number of gangs in London. We estimate there to be in the region of 250 gangs, or gang-like groups, operating across London. However, as stated just 90 of those have been involved in rivalries that have resulted in murder.

As matter of personal opinion, there are 71 London Street Gangs listed on the site which are particularly significant. Many of these predate the year 2000 having arisen as a continuation of criminal groups established predominantly in the 1990’s, with some dating back to the 1980’s and few having begun after the millennium.

Number of Gang Members in London

There are no official statistics on the number of gang members in London or the United Kingdom. That said, a number of guesses and throwaway statistics have been made available in recent years.
  • 2004 In a study called ‘Delinquent Youth Groups and Offending Behaviour’ compiled for the Home Office 3,827 10-19 year olds self-identified as members of gangs or gang like groups – this represented 6% of the total. Applying this study result to the youth population of London results in a figure of 50,000 gang or peer group members (click here)
  • 2005 The Safer London Youth Survey which interviewed 11,400 young people in Inner London estimated that just 2% (228) were gang members. Applying this figure to the London youth population would therefore equate to 16,800 youth gang members London wide (click here)
  • 2006 John Pitts quoted as saying there are no more than 1,500 – 2,000 gang members in London (click here)
  • 2007 John Pitts research identified 600 – 700 gang members in one London borough (Waltham Forest) (click here p.30)
  • 2008 John Pitts research with Lambeth claimed that one gang in Lambeth, Poverty Driven Children, had as many as 2,500 members (click here)
  • 2009 London Street Gangs site stated an estimate of 15,000 – or at this time an average of 75 young people per gang although ranging from as little as 15 to more than 200 in some cases. Furthermore the estimate took influence from the Safer London Youth Survey estimate of 2%. One aspect the figure does not account for is level of membership and activity. The figure is not an assumption or statement that all of those youths participate in any crimes or partake in criminal activity frequently. Some young people involved in gangs may offend prolifically whilst others will be party to ‘anti-social’ activities but not necessarily crimes including those of a serious violent nature.
  • 2011 London Street Gangs website using the 'Eurogang' tool devised in America, the maximum number of gang members at the Upper Confidence Level for London's 250 gangs would be 12,360 and at the Lower Confidence Level 5,750. There is no accurate way to devise a figure, period.
2011 If we assume that there are on average no more than a dozen ‘hardcore’ members in each London gang listed on the site (hardcore meaning frequent or prolific offender), then that would mean just 3,000 young people, or 0.4% of all young people aged 10-19 in London. A smaller number of gang members would be aged 20 and over.

Some boroughs have been quoted as estimating gang membership locally. For example, Tower Hamlets has once estimated 2,500; Islington 480, Barking & Dagenham 180 and Ealing 180 - that's 3,340 across just 4 boroughs! The fact of the matter remains that an accurate figure is currently unavailable.

In conclusion, the government can not with any great certainty say how many gangs exist or how many young people are actually gang members. Perhaps most worryingly is the fact that the government do not know what proportion of crime gang members are responsible for, yet they are willing to implement 'gang focused' initiatives and make funding available to 'tackle gangs' without any evidence base. There are no proven methods to 'tackle gangs' - see 'Gang Prevention' article as to why.

"Gang-Related" Part Two: The Olders

Gang Related – Part Two the Olders

In part one, the reality of gang membership amongst the Youngers established that by nature many will mature out of the gang lifestyle when a better opportunity arises.

However, not all young people can leave the gang; the few we should be aiming to reach are those at a higher risk of becoming habitual offenders / career criminals and eventual Olders to the next generation.

So what do the Olders think?

“Raskal”, age 29, now youth worker in south London:

“They wanna prove that they’re bad men, they don’t have common sense yet because they’re so young. I feel bad because us on the roads have brought these kids up in this lifestyle. But we haven’t taught them right. We bigged up ourselves as bad men, but I don’t think we were as reckless as they are. They see what we portray but they don’t really have any idea what they are getting themselves in for. They feel pressurised to do things in their circles, they have low self-esteem, no idea what it is to be valued, they don’t have no positive role model, and that is our fault. We could have been their positive role models. The Youngers need inspiration and empowerment, they need to see positivity. I’m not saying there is no positive things going on but they are not highlighted half as much as the negative things. I think like you say for Youngers, this has become a lifestyle choice, some of them still become involved because of the same reasons we did, but there are a lot of wannabe gang members out there, that’s a sad reality”.

“Buckles”, age 28, community worker in north London:

“Back in the day, I’m not so sure our motivations were the same as the current youngers, in terms of relative poverty, we had it worse. We grew up in blocks that were falling apart and being demolished, amongst squalor. The government have spent millions on re-developing the housing stock and making things look nice, but the problems are still here. I don’t know maybe it’s just something about certain areas? When I grew up I saw my mum struggling, holding down two three jobs and still she was broke. Would you not even contemplate trying to earn some money anyway you could? And then you meet the older lads on the estate who look after you, treat you like family, give you the opportunity to make some money. I think back then they were really looking out for us but today, the Youngers are just being manipulated. Do you know how it feels to live in these blocks? We wanted something to be ours so bad, we made the estate ours. We took pride in being from that area, we repped our ends the same as kids do today, but deep down it was depressing. No-one really wanted to live around here. The lifts didn’t work, the stairwells stunk of piss, sometimes of heroin and that is a horrible smell. Graffiti all over the walls. Who really wants to live like this and take pride in it? Are we deluded, no, we just wanted to belong to something, the estate was central to that. Growing up here money was always an issue. But it became a motive. Crime provided us with a way to get what we wanted, the trainers, clothes, girls. You needed the right clothes and trainers to get any sort of respect, we live in a consumerist society, if your not up to date with the latest fashion then your excluded from society. I used to rob commuters, banks, travel agents. I rolled with the wrong people but what I was doing it was good money, you needed to have money in your pocket”.

SJ, age 26, youth worker in north London:

“The YouTube video hype is madness. They keep hyping themselves up so much that if they don’t back up what they are saying they look stupid. If they say they’re gonna do something, they have to. Ten to fifteen years ago if you told me man on the roads were gonna be beefin over music videos on the internet I would have said two things – what’s the internet? And, nah no way. I’m sure most of our beef as Youngers was still over petty arguments over girls and silly things like that, maybe there would be a little fight, but we didn’t go around killing other young people for no good reason. Being in a gang gets you into trouble though even if you’re not the instigator because you’re expected to back your man up no matter what. I think it is important to stick up for your friends, but at the same time, should you really be taking their side if they have done something out of order? You can’t back down because it just doesn’t work that way, but at the same time your man should realise what he is getting you in for, he is putting your life at-risk too sometimes. People can’t back down, it’s a real problem. No one wants to try and squash the beef because you don’t want to look weak. It’s a big contradiction, because man won’t make a truce because they are scared to be called weak. If you can be the man that tries to squash the beef you are going against the norm knowing that everyone is going to think you’re a pussy, that takes a big man to do that, but no-one views it like that. Everyone is scared to squash their beef’s when they’re young; no-one wants to be the bigger man and do the right thing. The personal beefs between individuals are the most dangerous”.


“Drugs and gangs go hand in hand. All these Youngers are moving food (drugs) for older man, and if you can’t see that your fucking dumb blood! Everyone in this game is selling bruv, everyone is tooled up. You gotta be protected, my strap is my protection. You need to be on point around here when peeps busting (breaking) in next mans yard (house) lickin (firing) shots. It’s mad. Drugs is the problem cos everyone wants to be a dealer, it’s getting crowded out here trust. Even the Youngers run up in mans yard (house) to take their food (drugs), robbing dealers all day, no long thing. You never know when people gonna roll up on you take your money, take your car and whatever else you got. Drugs is the quickest way to make money, bare (lots of) p’s (money) but you need to protect it. You can’t let people take you for a mug, get me (understand)? You think I give a fuck about doing time for holding (a firearm)? Fuck no, rather that than be dead with a bullet in the back of my head. Jail ain’t gonna stop me, I’m an addict for the paper (money) chase blood, get me? The Youngers respect me more than the feds (police). They wanna be me, they wanna be the man. They don’t know though do they? They hate the feds and don’t wanna snitch, but how you think older man on the roads staying out of HMP? Everyone’s snitching, but fuck it; as long as the Youngers think that we ain’t and keep their mouths shut I couldn’t give a fuck if one of my youngers goes in (to prison), get me? Most boys running for me only 14 or 15, plenty more wanna be in their shoes blood. They’re replaceable. One of the boys 17, ain’t really all there mentally, get me? He thinks that BMX I gave him was a gift to show I respect his loyalty? It’s to move him round to get more work done, but he don’t realise that. But he respect me, he thinks he owes me. They think they’re ‘hood stars’, well they ain’t. They think they have respect, reppin the ends (neighbourhood) beefin man from next ends rah rah rah. . .the older from next ends is just like me, he hooks me up. The Youngers are just game pieces to us still”.