A new report by the Children’s commissioner puts into perspective the impact of gangs on young people and how this trend is growing. The impact on young people’s welfare is staggering and amongst the vulnerabilities are the easy target groups, including looked after children.

How many children in England are in gangs?

British Crime Survey data held by the Office of National Statistics suggests that there are 27,000 children in England who identify as a gang member.

However, this is not the full story. There are also children who are being groomed and exploited by gangs, but who would not identify as gang members. New analysis by the Children’s Commissioner’s Office ofthese children on the periphery of gang membership shows:

313,000 children aged 10-17 know someone they would define as a street gang member. Within this group, the following groups are particularly vulnerable:

  • 33,000 children who are the sibling of a gang member
  • 34,000 children who have been the victims of a violent crime in the past 12 months and either are a gang member, or know a gang memberThe group we think that authorities should be most concerned about are the group who are either in a gang or on the periphery of a gang and have experienced violence in the past 12 months. This is 34,000 children in England.
  • 313,000 Know a gang member
  • 60,000 Gang members or siblings of gang members
  • 27,000 Gang members
  • 6,560 Identified gang members
  • 34,000 Know a gang member and have been a victim of violence

Only a tiny fraction of these children are known to authorities; just 6,560 gang members or associates are known to children’s services or youth offending teams. This means there are more than 27,000 children in England believed to be experiencing gang violence but who are not identified by the authorities.

What can you do?

Protect your vulnerable children and young people. Use every means possible to give them a brighter future. Don’t let them leave your Children’s Home until you feel sure that they are going to a place where they will be safe and protected. Use the scope outlined in Regulation 5 to challenge local authorities who want to place young people in less than adequate move on provisions.