The National Crime Agency describes the way street gangs, exploiting vulnerable younger adolescents in both the major cities and the destination locations, distribute narcotics across wide swathes of the country. (County Lines, Gangs and Safeguarding 2016)
It appears that the proliferation of drug markets in England and Wales has been a major factor in the emergence of street gangs and gang culture outside the major UK cities (Pitts, 2008, Andell & Pitts, 2010).
Public Health, in consultation with the LSCB, commissioned a piece of research around Youth Gangs and Violence. The research will be undertaken by the University of Suffolk in 3 geographical phases 1) Ipswich 2) West Suffolk 3) East Suffolk. Phase 1 was completed and the findings published (restricted) in June 2017.
The purpose of the research was to:
Identify and assess the nature and extent of the problem and impact on safeguarding and wider service delivery.
Describe and assess existing interventions and service provision and, where relevant, highlight gaps and anomalies.
Produce evidence led recommendations that will inform a countywide, multi-agency response which will cover the areas of prevention, intervention and enforcement.
It focussed on the recent gang activity in Ipswich and the associated safeguarding concerns.
Initial findings from the study identified:
An increased risk of sexual exploitation to females involved in the gang activity.
An increase in the number of violent crimes committed.
Estimated number of core members of the gangs are between 10 and 40.
The need for a more co-ordinated approach across partners.
A multi agency response is being co-ordinated in Autumn 2017, lead by the YOS Head of Service.