Top

5.3 Gang Activity and Youth Violence: Guidance

Contents

Introduction

5.3.1

This guidance is for frontline staff and managers working in both voluntary and statutory agencies. It will also be helpful for individuals in Buckinghamshire’s local communities and community groups, who also have a role in identifying and safeguarding children who are vulnerable to, or at risk from, involvement in or targeting from:

  • emergent criminality, serious youth violence perpetrated by their peers in gangs, or increasing anti-social behaviour
  • serious youth violence perpetrated by children acting on their own.
5.3.2

This guidance supplements the Home Office guidance ‘Safeguarding Children and Young People who may be affected by gang activity’ (2010) and should be read in conjunction with the Buckinghamshire Safeguarding Children Board Core Procedures.

Local Profile

5.3.3

Information from Thames Valley Police in 2016 reveals there are a small number of gangs in existence across Buckinghamshire, with the majority based in the Wycombe area. Historically, there has been a higher number of gangs across the area, however, due to police enforcement and intervention programmes provided by the Gangs Multi Agency Partnership (GMAP), this has been reduced.

5.3.4

Gangs tend to consist of young people (who can be as young as 10 years old) and are geographically specific. Within Buckinghamshire, most gang activity is located within High Wycombe, with 3–4 gangs. Local gangs tend to consist of young people drawn from a range of ethnic backgrounds, mostly male. While they may start as social entities, giving group members a shared sense of identity, they can become involved in causing anti-social behaviour, with the majority of members continuing on to more serious criminal activity, particularly drug supply.

Definition of a gang

5.3.5

Defining what constitutes a ‘gang’ can be difficult, partly because its characteristics are known to change over time and locality. Being part of a friendship group is a normal part of growing up and it can be common for groups of children and young people to gather together in public places to socialise. These groups should be distinguished from ‘gangs’ for whom crime and violence are a core part of their identity – although ‘delinquent peer groups’ can also lead to increased anti-social behaviour and youth offending.

5.3.6

Although some group gathering can lead to increased anti-social behaviour and youth offending, these activities should not be confused with the serious and organised violence of a gang.

5.3.7

Hallsworth and Young[1], and Gordon[2] set out the following definitions:

  • Peer group: a small, unorganised, transient group of children who ‘hang out together’ in public places such as shopping centres. Crime is not integral to their self-definition.
  • Winnable group: includes children who band together in a loosely structured group primarily to engage in spontaneous social activity and exciting, impulsive criminal activity, including collective violence against other groups of children. A winnable group will often claim ‘gang’ territory and adopt ‘gang-style’ identifying markers of some kind.
  • Gang: a relatively durable, predominantly street-based group of children who see themselves (and are seen by others) as a discernible group for whom crime and violence is integral to the group’s identity.
    • Children may be involved in more than one ‘gang’, with some cross-border movement, and may not stay in a ‘gang’ for significant periods of time.
    • Children rarely use the term ‘gang’, instead they use terms such as ‘family’, ‘breddrin’, ‘brethrin’, ‘crews’, ‘cuz’ (cousins), ‘my boys’ or simply ‘the people I grew up with’.
  • Organised criminal group: members are professionally involved in crime for personal gain, operating almost exclusively in the ‘grey’ or illegal marketplace.
5.3.8

Gordon also suggests that definitions may need to be highly specific to particular areas or neighbourhoods if they are to be useful. Furthermore, professionals should not seek to apply this or any other definition of a gang too rigorously; if a child or others think s/he is involved with, or affected by, ‘a gang’, then a professional should act accordingly in assessing the risk to the child as both a potential perpetrator and a victim.

5.3.9

The diagram below sets out a tiered approach to defining gangs. This guidance is focused on those young people on the periphery of becoming involved with street gangs and those young people already involved.

Principles

5.3.10

The following principles should be adopted by all agencies in relation to identifying and responding to children (and unborn children) who are at risk of, or are being, affected by gang activity and/or serious youth violence:

  • Children who are harmed and children who harm should both be treated as victims, and professionals should bear in mind that a child may be a perpetrator and also a victim of violence
  • The safety and welfare of the child is paramount
  • All agencies act in the interests of the rights of the child, as stated in the UN Convention (1989).
  • All decisions or plans for the child/children should be based on good quality assessments and be sensitive to the issues of gender, nationality, culture and sexuality.
  • All agencies should work in partnership with members of local communities to empower individuals and groups to develop support networks

Serious Youth Violence

5.3.11

The majority of children do not become violent, and those that do tend not to become violent in a short space of time. For the latter, their behaviour represents many years of (increasingly) anti-social and aggressive acts, with aggressive habits learned early in life often the foundation for later behaviour. Where a child succeeds at low-level anti-social acts, such as verbal abuse and bullying, violating rules and being disruptive, he/she may feel emboldened to perpetrate increased violence. However, any public discussion around serious youth violence should contain messages that reassure the public and build confidence, i.e. that the vast majority of young people contribute positively towards society. Serious youth violence is committed by a small minority (less than 2%) of young people.

Environmental Factors

5.3.12

Several factors are important contributors in potentially increasing an individual child’s propensity to act violently:

  • exposure to media images of violence
  • access to weapons
  • involvement with alcohol and other drugs
  • involvement in a gang.      
5.3.13

Exposure to media images of violence increases a child’s fear of becoming a victim of violence, with a resultant increase in self-protective behaviours and a mistrust of others.[3] It desensitises the child to violence, resulting in increased callousness towards violence directed at others and a decreased likelihood to take action on behalf of the victim when violence occurs. It also increases a child’s willingness to become involved with violence or exposing themselves to violence.

5.3.14

Where children’s viewing is not regulated, they can readily access graphic violence, often with sexual content, through TV, the internet, on DVD and through playing age-inappropriate games.

Gang Involvement

Recognition and respect

5.3.15
  1. A recent study of street crime confirms that much of it is primarily concerned with respect and recognition rather than monetary gain. Gang members will sometimes video their offences and post them on websites. While this renders them more vulnerable to prosecution (these sites can be a good source of intelligence), it serves to consolidate their reputation for toughness and hence the ‘respect’ to which they aspire.
  2. Respect matters to children in relation to gangs because to be ‘disrespected’ makes a child a target for anyone who wants to make a name for themselves. An act of ‘disrespect’ that goes unpunished can be perceived as inviting a challenge from rivals within their own gang as well as members of other groups. In certain neighbourhoods, being ‘mugged’ is often a prelude to a career of street crime, prompted by fear as children endeavour to rebuild respect in their social group in the wake of an attack.
  3. Violence is also a way for gang members to gain recognition and respect by asserting their power and authority in the street, with a large proportion of street crime perpetrated against members of other gangs or the relatives of gang members.
  4. Gang members also tend to be socially and emotionally isolated individuals with a very low level of mutual trust. Their relationships are put under even greater strain when gang members assault or rob friends, relations or one another – not an infrequent occurrence. However, it is worth noting that some high-profile gang members have excellent social and communications skills, and can be intelligent and articulate.

Group behaviour

5.3.16
  • In some circumstances, those who participate in group instigated violence are not known to be aggressive or anti-social. Rather, they can be children whose permissive parenting did not equip them to resist the group.
  • Where violence develops, it can escalate very quickly in a contagious manner, often through shared concerns and values.
  • While only a small percentage of children join gangs, and the absolute amount of violent behaviour by gang members is small, some studies suggest that homicide and aggravated assault are three times more likely to be committed by gang members than by non-gang anti-social children.

Formation of gangs

Community and family circumstances

5.3.17
  1. Circumstances which can foster the emergence of gangs include:
    • areas with a high level of social and economic exclusion and mobility (which weakens the ties of kinship and friendship, and the established mechanisms of informal control and social support)
    • areas made up of predominantly social housing, especially where it is high rise/high density social housing
    • areas with poor performing schools, particularly in terms of leadership, positive ethos, managing behaviour and partnership working
    • lack of access to pro-social activities (g. youth service) and to vocational training and opportunities
    • communities who have experienced war situations prior to arrival in the UK
    • areas with a high level of gang activity/peer pressure and intimidation, particularly if the family is denying this or is in fear of the gangs
    • family members being involved in gang activity and criminality.
  2. Many parents are aware of the perception that the gang problem is ultimately a product of poor parenting and that the solution lies in assuming responsibility for their children. However, they feel unable either to control or to protect their children.
  3. Gang-involved families are vulnerable to attack, reprisal and burglary. Parents may have the dilemma of deciding whether their child’s best interest is served by resisting the gang or joining it. Sometimes colluding with gang membership is viewed as the safest option for their child and family.
  4. Families who are exposed to violent crime can suffer long-term negative impacts on their health and wellbeing. Homicide can cause shock, denial, anger and fear, which may be heightened if the victim or family know the offender and/or live in the same neighbourhood. Victims, families and communities can also be stigmatised by homicides through being (or feeling) blamed for the situation.

Reluctant or naive gang members

5.3.18
  1. Children may become reluctant gang members as a means of self-protection. Non-affiliation may mean that it is dangerous to use certain services or facilities (such as a further education college or the local park) that are either located in gang territory or where access is only possible by crossing gang territory.
  2. Children can become involved in anti-social behaviour and gangs (and high-risk behaviours of all types) through impulsivity, lack of experience and failing to foresee consequences.
  3. However, gang members who want to leave a gang not only lose its protection, becoming vulnerable to other gangs with whom they have previously come into conflict, but may also be at risk from their former associates because of the disrespect or disloyalty implied by their departure.

Weapons

5.3.19

Fear and a need for self-protection is a key motivation for children to carry weapons – carrying a weapon affords a child a feeling of power. Neighbourhoods with high levels of deprivation and social exclusion generally have the highest rates of gun and knife crime.

5.3.20

Many children do not seek active involvement in gun crime and if they do use a gun are horrified by what they have done.

5.3.21

Knives and other weapons are far more prevalent than firearms, especially in the case of children. The Offending, Crime and Justice Survey highlights that:

  • 4% of children had carried a knife in the last 12 months
  • less than 1% reported having carried a gun in the same period
  • 85% of those who had carried a knife said the main reason was for protection, and a further 9% said it was in case they got into a fight.

Carrying weapons increases the risk of serious injury or death while defending oneself or fighting, and the risk multiplies in group situations.

Knives: What is and is not legal?

5.3.22
  1. It is illegal for any shop to sell a knife of any kind (including cutlery and kitchen knives) to anyone under the age of 18.
  2. It is generally an offence to carry a knife in public without good reason or lawful authority (for example, a good reason is a chef on the way to work carrying their own knives).
  3. Knives where the blade folds into the handle, like a Swiss Army Knife, are not illegal as long as the blade is shorter than three inches (7.62cms).
  4. If a knife is used in a threatening way (even a legal knife, such as a Swiss Army knife), it is regarded as an 'offensive weapon' under the law. This is also the case with items such as screwdrivers: once they are used in a threatening manner, they are treated as offensive weapon It is an offence to carry an offensive weapon in a public place, if you don't have a reasonable excuse.

'Stop and search' powers

5.3.23

Police officers have the right to search any person where there is a reasonable high level of suspicion of an offence, including carrying an offensive weapon. A reasonable or high level of suspicion is required before search powers can be evoked.

5.3.24

Professionals working with children who may have reason to be fearful in their neighbourhood or school/further education, college etc should be alert to the possibility that a child may carry a weapon.

Alcohol and drugs

5.3.25

The use of alcohol and illegal drugs can play a major role in violence involving young people. Children and young people’s use of drugs can bring them into contact with adults who are involved in organised crime, supplying drugs. The drugs business tends to attract career criminals who regulate the market through often extreme violence or the threat of violence.

5.3.26

Children often carry drugs (or weapons and stolen property) for the older gang members, so that they can be stopped and searched with impunity. Children are also known to serve jail terms for older gang members.

Gang associated sexual violence and exploitation

5.3.27

Sexual violence incorporates any behaviour that is perceived to be of a sexual nature, which is unwanted or takes place without consent or understanding. It is a wider concept than that of child sexual exploitation.

5.3.28

Child sexual exploitation is: The sexual exploitation of children and young people under 18 involves exploitative situations, contexts and relationships where young people (or a third person or persons) receive ‘something’ (e.g. food, accommodation, drugs, alcohol, cigarettes, affection, gifts, money) as a result of performing, and/or others performing on them, sexual activities… Child sexual exploitation can occur through use of technology without the child’s immediate recognition, for example the persuasion to post sexual images on the internet/mobile phones with no immediate payment or gain. In all cases, those exploiting the child/young person have power over them by virtue of their age, gender, intellect, physical strength and/or economic or other resources. Violence, coercion and intimidation are common, involvement in exploitative relationships being characterised in the main by the child or young person's limited availability of choice resulting from their social/economic and/or emotional vulnerability.

5.3.29

A common feature of child sexual exploitation is that the child or young person does not recognise the coercive nature of the relationship and does not see themselves as a victim of exploitation. Child sexual exploitation is a form of child sexual abuse, but what differentiates it from other forms of abuse is the concept of exchange – the fact that the young person or the person abusing them receives something in return for the abusive act.

5.3.30

The majority of gang members are male, although there are a number of female gangs. Members or female gang Girls are more likely to be subservient in predominantly male gangs, often being used to carry or stash weapons and drugs.

5.3.31

In some localities female members of gangs are often on the receiving end of violence and extortion, and their relationships with other gang members tend to be abusive. Initiation rituals are sometimes based on sexual violence, with female members of their own gang or, more often, on the female members of a rival gang.

5.3.32

Very few incidents of sexual violence by gang members are reported, with girls being extremely reluctant to identify their attackers, and often intimidated and threatened not to talk.

5.3.33

An American study of gang behaviour concluded that group sexual assault (and other types of assault) mainly occurs in an environment where group behaviour and acceptance is important to the young men involved. An individual who might otherwise not have perpetrated a sexual assault, may do so in situations where the presence of others acting in a similar fashion diminishes the individual’s feeling of responsibility for the harmful consequences of his own behaviour.

5.3.34

Sexual exploitation may be evident in gangs in the following forms:

  • Inter-gang exploitation – punishment/retribution/threat or ad hoc and opportunistic.
  • Intra-gang exploitation – punishment, set up scenarios or the initiation of males.
5.3.35

Gang members often groom girls at school and encourage/coerce them to recruit other girls through school/social networks. There is also anecdotal evidence that younger girls (some as young as 10 or 12) are increasingly being targeted, and these girls are often much less able to resist the gang culture or manipulation by males in the group. The girls often do not identify their attackers as gang members and tend to think of them as boyfriends. They may also be connected through family or other networks.

5.3.36

Girls are often groomed using drugs and alcohol, which act as dis-inhibitors and also create dependency.

5.3.37

Female relatives of gang members could also be at particular risk of either being under pressure to have sex with gang members or of being the victim of sexual violence by another gang. Siblings are particularly at risk, but other members of the wider family may also be exploited in this way.

5.3.38

Please also refer to the BSCB  guidance on child sexual exploitation:

  • Buckinghamshire Strategy for Tackling Child Sexual Exploitation
  • Child Sexual Exploitation: Guidance
  • Child Sexual Exploitation Aide Memoire – to help practitioners to identify the potential signs of child sexual exploitation

Use of the internet and mobile phones

5.3.39

The internet has increasingly become a key recruitment tool to help gangs expand, both in terms of territory and the number of members in each gang. Young members typically use mobile phones to conduct drug transactions and arrange meetings.

5.3.40

Gang leaders actively reach out through popular online services to create a new generation of gang members. They describe gang life as glamorous and seductive. Recruiters tell of a life of power, leisure and wealth, and instant gratification, as well as a ‘family’ and sense of belonging that many young people may desperately want.

5.3.41

Feedback from young gang members in London is consistent with this: “I don’t see it as being in a gang; it’s more like being in a family.” (Roxy, age 15, member of 2 London gangs)

5.3.42

For the most part, gangs use popular social media sites: Facebook, YouTube, SnapChat, Instagram and Twitter. The videos and photos posted may just be about their lives, but frequently include documentation of crimes they want to brag about. The sites are also used to convey threats and to intimidate. The threats exchanged online create a new cause for offline violence as gang members settle disagreements that started online.

Sign and symptoms of gang involvement

5.3.43

Children as young as seven years old can be involved in a gang. Professionals who have contact with children should be competent in identifying the signs and symptoms which, particularly when clustered together, can raise concerns that a child may be either reluctantly or willingly involved with a gang.

5.3.44

Indicators include:

  • being withdrawn from their family.
  • sudden loss of interest in school, and/or decline in attendance or academic achievement (although it should be noted that some gang members will maintain a good attendance record to avoid coming to notice).
  • being emotionally ‘switched off’, but also demonstrating frustration/rage.
  • starting to use new or unknown slang words
  • holds unexplained money or possessions.
  • staying out unusually late without reason, or breaking parental rules consistently.
  • sudden change in appearance – dressing in a particular style or ‘uniform’ similar to that of other young people they hang around with, including a particular colour.
  • dropping out of positive activities
  • having a new nickname.
  • unexplained physical injuries, and/or refusal to seek/receive medical treatment for injurie
  • graffiti style ‘tags’ on possessions, school books, walls
  • constantly talking about another young person who seems to have a lot of influence over them.
  • breaking off with old friends and hanging around with one group of people.
  • associating with known or suspected gang members, closeness to siblings or adults in the family who are gang members
  • adopting certain codes of group behaviour, ways of talking and hand signs.
  • expressing aggressive or intimidating views towards other groups of young people, some of whom may have been friends in the past.
  • being scared when entering certain areas.
  • being concerned by the presence of unknown youths in their neighbourhood.
5.3.45

The framework in the Appendix provides greater detail around high, medium and low level risk factors and indicators.

5.3.46

It seems that the more heavily gang-involved a child is, the less likely she/he is to talk about it. However, if a child does talk about gang involvement, professionals should always take what the child tells them seriously.

Children at risk of becoming serious violent offenders

5.3.47

Professionals who have contact with children should be competent in identifying the combinations of signs and symptoms which can place children at risk of becoming serious and violent offenders. Additional indicators for this include:

  • Hyperactivity – the relationship between hyperactivity and later violence has been found consistently across studies, regardless of the measurement methods used.
  • Concentration problems – can predict later violent behaviour as well as academic difficulties, which themselves are risk factors for violence.
  • Aggression – the earlier anti-social and violent behaviour presents, the more likely a child is to display chronic and serious violence in later childhood and adolescence.
  • Acceptance of violence, carrying weapons, substance misuse and sexual exploitation – which weaken a child’s internal controls against these behaviours.
  • Dishonesty, anti-social beliefs and attitudes, and hostility toward police – all of which have all been found to predict violence, particularly among boys.

Looked after children

5.3.48

Looked After children are particularly vulnerable due to their low self-esteem, low resilience, attachment issues and the fact that they are often isolated from family and friends. There are risks specific to different types of placements, such as secure units, children’s homes, foster homes, or living in semi-independent accommodation.

5.3.49

Professionals in all agencies who have contact with Looked After children should be alert to their increased vulnerability to being gang-involved, targeted by gangs or adversely affected by gang activity. These children could potentially be at risk of harm from serious youth violence.

5.3.50

When looked after children are known to be involved with, or affected by, gangs, professionals need to take into account gang territory and gang membership when planning placements for Looked After children, to avoid placing a child in a situation which exposes him/her to serious youth violence.

5.3.51

At reviews, the Independent Reviewing Officer should recommend that a team manager convenes a multi-agency professionals or network meeting if there are concerns that a child may be vulnerable to gang involvement and/or serious youth violence. There needs to be clear lines of accountability for any Looked After child who is vulnerable to, or affected by, gang activities and/or serious youth violence.

5.3.52

All children’s homes should have access to a local professional with specialist knowledge in relation to gangs and serious youth violence, or a gangs and serious youth violence team.

5.3.53

Looked After Children cases will be managed in line with the Children’s Social Care Procedures for Looked After Children.

Education establishments

5.3.54

All education establishments can be affected by gang activity.

5.3.55

Some primary schools report conflict between self-styled gang members. From time to time, gang-affiliated youngsters from secondary schools are summoned to a primary school by their younger brothers and sisters as reinforcements in the aftermath of an ‘inter-gang’ playground dispute.

5.3.56

In some areas, further education colleges can be where gang activity and/or serious youth violence can gain momentum because, unlike schools, gangs are more likely to view further education colleges ‘as belonging’ to particular gangs. This ownership can give rise to incidents of serious youth violence on the premises and create an atmosphere of fear and intimidation.

5.3.57

In recent UK studies, almost two thirds of 23 active gang members interviewed had been permanently excluded from school, with the exclusions often resulting from gang involved and gang-affected children attempting to bring weapons onto school premises.

5.3.58

These studies confirmed that children involved in anti-social behaviour and gangs tend to see academic striving as ‘uncool’ and, as a result, educational failure can come to be accepted as the norm amongst them.

Health

5.3.59

Health professionals, in particular GPs and Accident and Emergency staff, may become concerned about a child’s involvement in serious youth violence due to injuries or wounds, particularly those caused by sharp instruments or knives.

5.3.60

Health professionals may also come into contact with girls who they suspect may have been sexually exploited or abused, perhaps through Genito-Urinary Medicine (GUM) clinics, sexual health services and GPs. Professionals should be alert to a child’s likely reluctance and fear of discussing this.

House and social landlords

5.3.61

Through their housing management function, social landlords are well placed to identify risk and to make a strong contribution to delivering positive outcomes across the range of preventive, enforcement and/or resettlement strategies.

5.3.62

Incidences of gang activity and/or serious youth violence are high-level concerns for social landlords and their residents in the neighbourhoods in which they manage properties.

5.3.63

There is also a key role for the hostel/supported housing sector who may be accommodating the young people themselves. This includes 16/17-year-old ‘children in need’ who are accommodated under Section 20 of the Children Act, and whose circumstances may make them particularly vulnerable to exploitation by gangs. These types of services are uniquely placed to pick up on risk factors and also to work with young people attempting to break away from gang activity.

Community groups / voluntary agencies and faith groups

5.3.64

Community groups/voluntary agencies can be well placed to know the profile and location of local gang activity, and potential or actual serious youth violence, through their community links and the work they do to support children and their families. In addition, community workers and professionals from voluntary agencies can be best placed to reach children who are at risk of harm from their peers.

5.3.65

Gang-related ‘territorialism’ and serious youth violence can make community, voluntary or youth work difficult in any local area. In these circumstances, safe outreach work rather than building-based activities can be an effective way forward.

Response

Identifying a child at risk from gang activity and/or serious youth violence

5.3.66
  • where there are concerns about a child that relate to gang activity, agencies should take timely action in accordance with this procedure to make sure appropriate help and support is provided at the earliest possible opportunity. A child could be:
    • not gang involved, but at risk from becoming involved and harmed from gang activity or serious youth violence
    • not gang involved and at risk of harm from gang members
    • involved with gang-related activities and/or serious youth violence, and at risk both of harming others
  • in relation to gangs and serious youth violence, children could be or could put themselves at risk of significant harm from:
    • their peers
    • gang-involved or affected adults in their household (including because their parent cannot protect them).
    • A child involved with a gang or with serious youth violence could potentially be both a victim and a perpetrator. Professionals need to assess and support his/her welfare and wellbeing needs at the same time as assessing and responding in a criminal justice capacity. 

 Providing early help

  1. Working Together to Safeguard Children sets out a clear expectation that local agencies will work together to identify children with additional needs and provide support as soon as a problem emerges.
  2. providing early help is far more effective in promoting the welfare of children and keeping them safe, than reacting later when problems may have become more entrenched. The BSCB Early Help Strategy sets out how early help will be implemented.
  3. where there a concerns about a child that relate to gang activity, agencies should take timely action in accordance with this procedure to make sure appropriate help and support is provided at the earliest possible opportunity.

 Assessing levels of need and referral to children’s social care

  1. where there is immediate danger of significant harm, refer to the police on 999.
  2. where there is a risk or concern, the risk assessment framework (see Appendix) for children affected by gangs and serious youth violence can be used alongside the thresholds document to help identify the level of need and decide on appropriate action.
  3. staff should assess the presenting behaviours/what a child is telling them in the context of whatever information they know or can gather from the child about the risk factors which contribute to the child’s vulnerability to gang involvement and serious youth violence.
  4. the BSCB has produced a referral flow diagram that shows the action individuals/agencies should take if they have a concern about a child in Buckinghamshire. This should be followed whatever the nature of the safeguarding concern.
  5. once concerns are raised about harm from gang activity and serious youth violence, there should also be consideration of possible risk to members of the child’s family and other children in the community. Professionals should be alert to the fact that other children could be identified as being at risk of harm from gang involvement/activity and will then need to be responded to in line with this procedure.

Parental engagement

5.3.67

Wherever possible, professionals in all agencies should involve parents as early as possible in cases where there are concerns that a child may be affected by gang activity and serious youth violence. The child and his/her parents should be invited to any multi-agency meeting to discuss the concerns.

5.3.68

The exception to this is where professionals have concerns that to involve parents would risk further harm to a child or undermine a criminal investigation. If the parents are not invited, the reason should be recorded in the minutes of the meeting, together with a written undertaking that a named person informs them of the outcome of the meeting.

5.3.69

Where there are difficulties in engaging with parents, staff should consider alternative ways of achieving co-operation, including the use of community organisations and/or community leaders to facilitate the work with parents/family.

Osman Warnings

5.3.70

A warning regarding threat to life, or an Osman Warning, is so named after the Osman v United Kingdom case (1998) which placed a positive obligation on the authorities to take preventive measures to protect an individual whose life is at risk from the criminal acts of another individual. In the context of gangs, this may occur as a result of gang rivalry or because of an incident occurring within a young person’s own gang (for example threatening to leave or refusing to commit an act of violence).

5.3.71

If the police give an Osman Warning to a young person they should inform Children’s Social Care and consider whether:

  • there is a need for immediate action regarding risk of significant harm
  • the child should be referred for a common assessment

Risk of harm to professionals

5.3.72

Professionals should be aware of any potential threats to their safety during interaction with a child and should make a decision on the suitability of a home visit. It may be more appropriate to interview the child and/or parents and carers in a neutral setting.

5.3.73

Agencies may need to consider putting in place protocols for managing risk of harm to professionals/staff in this context. All professionals should have access to competent and consistent risk management advice. It may be appropriate for security measures to be taken such as ensuring professionals can access panic alarms and mobile phones, as well as conflict resolution training for frontline staff.

Information sharing and intelligence

5.3.74

Staff in all agencies need to be confident and competent in sharing information appropriately to safeguard children who are at risk of harm through gang activity and/or serious youth violence.

5.3.75

All agencies are empowered to share information without permission for the purpose of crime prevention under Section 115 of the Crime and Disorder Act 1998, although obtaining consent is good practice.

5.3.76

In considering whether to share information, professionals should also refer to the BSCB Information Sharing Code of Practice and the Government’s information sharing advice for safeguarding practitioners.

5.3.77

Professionals should seek advice from their safeguarding lead if they are in any doubt as to whether or not information should be shared.

5.3.78

Police officers who interact daily with young people are often best placed to recognise signs that a young person may either already be a gang member or is at most risk of being recruited into a gang. A responsibility rests with all to ensure that intelligence around those affected by gangs is accurately recorded and then shared with partner agencies, in order that appropriate strategies can be implemented.

Appendix

Related Policies, Procedures, and Guidance

Bibliography

Footnotes

[1] Hallsworth, S and Young, T. Getting Real About Gangs, Criminal Justice Matters 2004 (55) 12-13

[2] Gordon, R. Criminal Business Organisations, Street Gangs and “Wanna Be” Groups: A Vancouver perspective. Canadian Journal of Criminology and Criminal Justice 2000. vol. 42

[3] Joint Statement on the Impact of Entertainment Violence on Children, Congressional Public Health Summit, July 26, 2000

This page is correct as printed on Tuesday 21st of May 2019 06:37:21 PM please refer back to this website (http://bscb.procedures.org.uk) for updates.
Close