Gangs

If you're worried about gangs, it can be difficult to know what to do to help protect young people.

On this page, we provide information on signs to look out for, support groups available for young people and parents/carers as well links to resources for further information and advice.


What is a gang?

A street gang is a group of individuals or close friends identifying with or claiming control over territory in a community, and engaging either individually or collectively in violent behaviour or other types of criminal activity.

They might carry knives or other weapons and use them either to show off or to threaten people. They might try and get you involved with them and what they do – or threaten to hurt you if you don’t join them, or if you belong to another gang.

Being a victim of gang crime can happen to anyone; to individuals, other gangs or groups, or to whole communities. It often takes place in public areas, and you may or may not know the person or people committing the crime.

We also have information pages for Parents/Carers and Children & Young People.


Criminal exploitation of children and vulnerable adults: county lines guidance - Home Office Guidance for frontline professionals

  If you're worried about gangs, it can be difficult to know   what to do to help protect young people.

  Call our 24-hour helpline anonymously: 0808 800 5000

  Text 88858 

  Emailhelp@nspcc.org.uk

  If you're worried about gangs, it can be difficult to know   what to do to help protect young people.

  Call our 24-hour helpline anonymously: 0808 800 5000

  Text 88858 

  Emailhelp@nspcc.org.uk

What to look out for

There aren't any definite signs but here are some things to look out for:

  • spending time with people you don't know and aren't sure about
  • going missing from home or school
  • getting into trouble at school
  • having new clothes or other items that you think they can't afford
  • getting involved with crimes including robbery, violence, drug dealing and sexual exploitation
  • having unexplained injuries
  • losing interest in their existing hobbies
  • becoming secretive
  • not telling you where they have been or why they returned late
Why do young people join gangs?
  • They feel a need for protection, security or safety
  • For power, money, sex, respect and status 
  • For a sense of identity and to feel part of a family
  • To feel accepted by others
  • Gangs are common in their area
  • Fear of intimidation
  • They feel peer pressure to join a gang
  • Lack of family, cultural or institutional support
  • They do not have positive role models to help and guide them
  • Boredom as there is nothing else to do 
  • It seems attractive and youth think it is cool
Junior Smart: SOS Project

Founder of SOS Project and ex-gang member Junior Smart talks about the three big denials plaguing gangs and serious youth violence work.

Download guidance for parents / carers


Free, 24-hour helpline: 0800 1111

Online chat or Email

   

24-hour helpline: 0808 800 5000

Text 88858  

Email: help@nspcc.org.uk

08 08 16 89 111

You & Co youth programme 

Support Groups

Gangsline - Confidential helpline: 0800 032 9538

Outreach support to young men and women, works to promote organisations and individuals in a community working together to tackle gang culture, including the rise of child exploitation.


Family Lives - Confidential helpline: 0808 800 2222 

Charity offering support to parents to deal with the changes of family life.


The SOS project (part of St Giles Trust) - advice to young adults who want to get out of gang related activity. This includes Expect Respect - a specialist service for girls and young women.


Reach Every Generation - Training and coaching


Catch-22 - Intervention work to prevent young people from becoming involved in gangs