Youth Gang Violence Set to Have ‘Unprecedented Rise’ During Summer

LONDON, ENGLAND - JULY 12: (EDITORS NOTE: Part of this image has been pixellated to obscure identity) Suspects are detained and searched by police officers after being arrested for alleged possession of a dangerous weapon near Elephant and Castle Station during Operation Sceptre on July 12, 2017 in London, England. …
Carl Court/Getty

There is set to be an “unprecedented rise” in gang violence and knife crime in London this summer because children are out of school, a report has warned.

Blaming cuts to youth services, London child poverty charity The Childhood Trust warns that without the structure, care, and adult supervision provided by schools, young people from “deprived communities” will become “susceptible to violence and abuse as well as an increased tendency to participate in anti-social activities due to boredom and lack of fulfilment”.

“Not having positive opportunities to participate in healthy activities during the holidays amongst children in deprived communities is contributing to an unprecedented rise in gang violence and knife crime,” authors of A Summer from Hell: Experiences of Children Living in Poverty in London write.

“Faced with loneliness, insecurity and disconnection from their families, many find a sense of community with others in the same situation. This leaves children particularly vulnerable to gang exploitation and abuse.”

According to the Trust’s report, 65 per cent of children and teens fear being attacked or exploited by gangs and more than half (54 per cent) have witnessed violence during the summer holidays.

Surveys from 22 charities that plan to support some 12,000 London children this summer have warned that “there is a high threat of violence to children and young people during the summer holidays as compared to term time”.

Nearly half (45 per cent) of charities told researchers that youth violence in the communities they serve is “out of control”, with 41 per cent calling it “significant”.

The Trust also warned at the increased risk of such children being vulnerable to rape and Child Sexual Exploitation (CSE) and of young people carrying knives as a form of protection.

A report released last week by London South Bank University and London’s Waltham Forest borough council found that organised gangs were using drug runners as young as 12 and that child sexual exploitation (CSE) “is becoming more prevalent in gang culture”.

Under Labour’s London Mayor Sadiq Khan, youth homicide has increased by 70 per cent and serious youth violence is up by 19 per cent from 2015/16 to 2016/17.

More than 60 people have been killed in the nation’s capital so far this year, with media reporting some 20 stabbing fatalities were young people aged 21 and under, four aged under 16.

Gang initiations can involve stabbing a random victim or other named target; more recently, initiations include acid attacks.

Chris Preddie, who grew up around gang culture and received an OBE for his work with London’s youth, told The Sun in April that the city’s teens are now stabbing each other to earn ‘respect points’ in a gang’s “ranking system”.

“It’s so much more serious than you think. This score system is real, and people are losing their lives,” Mr. Preddie warned.

.