SOCIAL POLICY PROJECT
Question: What are the major issues that cause inner city youth to join gangs and become delinquent? Discuss whether the New Labour Government’s policies have been effective in solving these issues?
Project by: Alice Mutumba
Student No: 05038460
The perception that gang culture in relation to youth crime is growing in the UK is intensified by the media, it is very rare to read a daily paper these days without coming across some mention of gang related crime. In order to understand why some of the young people living in the global city join gangs it is important to have a clear definition of what a gang is and to also investigate the role of the media in generating stereotypes or pre-conceived ideas about gangs. In a later chapter I will discuss briefly the role of the media as one of the causes of youth crime. The issue of having one clear definition for the term ‘gang’ has always been a problem which is unlikely to be resolved, but it is important that there is a consensus on a working definition as this will ensure that youth projects from different agencies across the country and worldwide are investigating the same issues/ problems in relation to youth delinquency. It will also prevent the media and political commentators from exaggerating the problem by the use of stereo types. In the ‘Delinquent youth groups and offending behaviour: findings from the 2004 Offending, Crime and Justice Survey’, Home Office online report the following definition of ‘delinquent youth group’ (DYG) is used:
“• Young people who spend time in groups of three or more (including themselves). • The group spend a lot of time in public places.
• The group has existed for three months or more.
• The group has engaged in delinquent or criminal behaviour together in the last 12 months. • The group has at least one structural feature (either a name, an area, a leader, or rules). “ (Home office report 2004)
Research has shown the stigmatising potential of the gang label, Malcolm Klein (1971) outlines the dangers of strengthening gangs simply by treating and labelling them as such. In an article in the London Metro 2007, the youth justice board recommends that officials steer away from using the term gang and that the term 'troubled youth groups' should be used to describe young delinquents, as a means to steer troubled youth away from the risk of joining 'real' dangerous gangs. (Metro Newspaper 23.05.07)
Gangs: The problem
It is undeniable that there is a rising culture of youth crime. According to a metropolitan police report discussed on the BBC News online, gangs are responsible for more than a fifth of youth crime in London. (BBC News Online 2007).
Clare Sharp et al 2004 in the home office’s ‘Delinquent youth groups and offending behaviour: findings from the 2004 Offending, Crime and Justice Survey’, cite the following problems of youth offending for individual gang members and for gangs as a group: “Key findings on individual level offending:
Sixty-three per cent of those belonging to delinquent youth groups have, themselves, committed at least one ‘core offence’3 in the last year. This is significantly higher than for non members (26%). The pattern remains when examining individual offence types (the only exception to this was robbery which was low for both members and non-members at 1%).”
“Offending/delinquency in groups acting together;
The most common delinquent group activity carried out together was using drugs. A half (51%) of those belonging to a delinquent youth group said their group had used drugs together in the last year. • Other common activities were threatening or frightening people (40% of those in delinquent youth groups reported that their group had done this), graffiti (36%); breaking, damaging or destroying things (31%) and using force or violence (29%)” (Home Office report 2004)....
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