London gangs are operating out of a desire for profit rather than territorial domination, a new study by London South Bank University has revealed.
“The first major development is the emergence of a more organized and ruthless operating model focused on the drugs market and driven by a desire for profits,” authors of the report, dubbed ‘From Postcodes to Profit’, say.
Commissioned by Waltham Forest council, alongside the university, the report notes that: “This more business-oriented ethos has changed the meaning of territory. Instead of an emotional sense of belonging to a postcode that needs to be defended, territory is valued as a marketplace to be protected.”
The findings were backed by Clare Coghill, leader of Waltham Forest council, who said poverty is a factor driving youth into gangs.
“These kids are not doing this to get cars and trainers, they are doing this to get weed and a box of chicken. They are doing this to eat and have a sense of social belonging,” she said, the Guardian reports.
The study also found that an increasing amount of children aged 12-17 are getting involved in gang crime, not only as perpetrators but also as victims as they are subjected to serious violence and sexual abuse.
“Our report shows there is definitely scope for further research to look more deeply into the issue of child slavery and sexual exploitation of young girls by gangs in future, to see whether these activities could be prosecuted under the Modern Slavery Act,” lead author and a professor of social work Andrew Whittaker said.
It comes as Met Police Commissioner Cressida Dick tried to put into context the current crime epidemic rocking London, saying the capital’s murder rate is actually lower than it was more than a decade ago. She said there were 250 murders in London in 2006, though official statistics showed there were 172.
She said it compares favorably with the 150 homicides last year and 100 in 2016.
“I regret every single one but I do think we have to have some context,” the commissioner said.
“This is affecting particular communities, it is not making this whole city unsafe, it’s not making young people in general unsafe, it’s not dragging most young people into crime.”
“It’s a horrible phenomenon and that’s why I have hundreds of people out on the streets suppressing it and we are beginning to see some stabilization and indeed even potential reduction in the stabbing of young people under 25.”
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