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

Monday, 8 July 2013

Home Secretary Theresa May praises borough's gang action programme

Waltham Forest Guardian

9:21am Monday 8th July 2013 By Zachary Norman

A gang initiative in the borough has been roundly praised following a high-powered visit last week.

The Home Secretary Theresa May, MPs Iain Duncan-Smith and Stella Creasy, with Council Leader Chris Robbins, met last Thursday at Leytonstone's Construction Skills Centre in Cathall Road, where ex-gang members have been learning trades.

Sitting down with councillors, officers, police representatives, programme providers, former gang members and people whose lives has been affected by gang violence the visit was to demonstrate what the borough is doing to help vulnerable people back into education, training and work.

After the visit the Home Secretary said: “Gang violence has a devastating impact on communities. We need to change the lives of young people before they get sucked into a life of violence and crime.

"This project in Waltham Forest is an excellent example of the work being done at a local level to provide vulnerable youngsters with a way out of trouble.”

The centre provides people with practical skills needed to work in the construction industry, including steel fixing, paving, flooring and roofing.

Iain Duncan Smith, who has a history of working with the borough’s gangs and is the patron of Gangs Unite, said: “We had a really productive meeting with the Home Secretary – it was great for her to meet some of the people on the ground such as Colin James from Gangs Unite.

“She was very interested in the work Colin has been doing – he has been instrumental in helping to pull young boys in Waltham Forest out of gangs and showing them an alternative way of life.”

The Secretary of State for Work and Pensions added that early intervention and enforcement gives young boys growing up on estates with no male role models a way of doing something productive with their lives.

Gangs Unite is a community interest company based in South Grove, Walthamstow, which mentors around 70 young people through sport and performing arts.

Councillor Robbins said: “This visit by the Home Secretary helps shine a light on the work we’re doing to tackle the issue of gangs.”

He said in the past year gang violence in Waltham Forest amongst 10 to 19 year olds had almost halved.

The council also runs a program call Enough is Enough which attempts to address gang issues by working with whole families.

Saturday, 6 July 2013

Anti gang talent showcaseLast updated Sat 6 Jul 2013

ITV (see article and video here)

Gang warfare in the capital is being targeted by one charity trying to turn inter-neighbourhood rivalry on it's head.

XLP helps mentor young people and tonight is the biggest event in its calendar - its annual talent showcase.

The event highlights the skills of talented young Londoners - and aims to help steer them away from gangs and gang culture.

Piers Hopkirk explains:

Thursday, 4 July 2013

Rap City - Prisoner to the Streets video

Murder: what happens when the cameras move on?

By Guest

Vicky Torrance worked with Community Links on our Street Life: the Conversation project during the winter. In this guest post she explains why she, and the charity she works with, got involved. 

It’s the six o’clock news, a young person has been fatally stabbed. The pictures of their distraught family briefly flicker across our screen. “How awful” we think, as a shudder passes down our spine at the thought of something like that happening to someone we love. The story moves on. Do we ever stop and think what happens to that family when the news cameras move on?

The loss of a family member through homicide has profound, devastating and far reaching effects on the whole family unit. Studies have shown that bereavement by homicide is often followed by loss of employment, the breakdown of relationships and mental health problems. Families bereaved through homicide often describe the enormous sense of isolation they feel as they struggle to come to terms with the emotional and psychological impact of their loss. That is why the work of charity’s like Through Unity is so important. Through Unity provides support for the whole family unit in various ways; from befriending to opportunities to get together with other families bereaved through homicide at our family days. Through Unity will be there for families in the early stages of bereavement and through the years to come as the family struggles with the “ripple affect” of the homicide on their families.

On the face of it then, it may not seem obvious why Through Unity would get involved with Community Link’s project Street Life: The Conversation. The project sought to engage with young people to identify solutions to the issues of gangs and weapons carrying. The project involved workshops in each of Community Links’ community hubs, and street-based youth work. Young people from the hubs were invited to make their own response to the issues, which they did with huge commitment, energy and enthusiasm. Anti-knife crime t-shirts were made, songs and raps written, posters designed and dramas devised. The project culminated in a big community event attended by over 300 young people, members of the community, politicians and local decision makers. The event showcased the work of the young people and facilitated a conversation about what could be done to make our communities safer.

So why did members of Through Unity get involved? Families bereaved through homicide know more than anyone the devastation that is wreaked on families and communities as the result of violence. This is often described as the “ripple affect”. The victim, the offender, their families, their friends and the whole community all get caught up in the destructive repercussions of an act of violence. Bereaved families have a unique and personal story to tell. For many families it is important that that they “tell their story”, not only as part of their “grief journey” but also to raise awareness of the devastating after affects of violence that is often so trivialised in the media. Prevention is their watch word. If one life is saved and one family prevented from “walking their road” it will have been worth it. For some the drive to raise awareness of the dangers of carrying guns and knives has led them to set up their own charities and work tirelessly with young people.

How did families in the Through Unity Coalition contribute to Street Life? Professional photographer Sal Idriss (who has twenty images in the permanent collection of the National Portrait Gallery), did a four week photography workshop with young women exploring the issue of gangs and weapons carrying. Sal lost his brother Nass (Nassirudeen) in 2007, Nass died as the result of an unprovoked knife attack in Islington.

Bafta Award winning film maker Mark One showed his film, “After Affects” and did workshops in the community hubs. The film explores the way the news of a murder destroys the lives of family and friends and how the after affects ripple through the whole community with far reaching consequences for everyone. Mark made this film as a result of losing the 19 year old boyfriend of his eldest niece to knife crime in 2006.

Ray and Vi Donovan from the Chris Donovan Trust attended the showcase event and Ray told the story of how his son Chris was killed by a gang of youths as he walked with his brother to a friend’s house.

This is what they said about the project:

Ray Donovan – “As victims of crime, we found it encouraging and mindblowing to see so many young people wanting to do something to win back the streets of their community. They have our utmost respect.”

Sal Idriss – “It was inspiring to see so many coming together for one common aim

Mark One – “The ‘Street Life the Conversation’ event was a great morale lifter for our young adults. To see their work come to life in front of a captive audience is a life lesson that hard work pays off. It was an honour to be a part of the event. We need more events like this in our communities for young adults to use their time to develop themselves, learning how to start, finish and present themselves to a high level.”

So what have we learnt from the experience? We have learnt that we need to work together to reduce violence on our streets. The whole community both young and old, have a part to play and it is vital that we hear the voices of those who have lost loved ones to violence.

For more information about the work of Through Unity go to: or find us on Facebook: