UK: 170 gangs on streets of London

August 2007, UK Telegraph

They hunt in packs and use knives and pistols to settle feuds and punish perceived 'disrespect'. The policeman leading the fight back explains the enormity of his task

Detective Chief Superintendent Barry Norman thought he had seen it all during his 28 years with the Metropolitan Police Force: gruesome murders, brutal rapes and vicious armed robberies.

Yet, as he rose through the ranks from a constable to the head of Scotland Yard's Violent Crime Directorate, nothing prepared him for the scale of the task he now faces - tackling gang warfare.

Scotland Yard has just completed the task of counting how many street gangs there are in London. The results are staggering: there are more than 170, some of them up to 100-strong. It means on any given night, several thousand gang members are roaming the capital, many of them thirsting for violence. In other British cities, notably Manchester, Liverpool, Glasgow and Birmingham, there is a frighteningly similar picture ...

Firearm discharges in Greater Manchester are running at a record 120 a year, with nearly a third of them are gang-related. A recent Home Office study of south Manchester revealed that in 150 separate shooting incidents over a three-year period, only one witness came forward to testify.

Detective Inspector Paul Miller, who works in the Xcalibre task force, said: "We are seeing turf wars where one shooting leads to a series of tit-for-tat reprisals. Shootings are often linked to status, or 'glamour'. Sometimes it's just violence for violence's sake." ...

... violence was spreading from the cities and gang members are getting younger, some even of primary school age.

"When the police launch campaigns to take out the drug dealers, people emigrate to places like Reading, Northampton, Peterborough and Preston," he said. "What you're seeing is a dispersal of this kind of activity and when drug territories move, violence goes with them."

Violent deaths of teenagers in Greater London this year:

January: Stephen Boachie, 17, stabbed, in Barking, Essex
Dean Lahlou, 18, stabbed, Tottenham
Jevon Henry, 18, stabbed, St John's Wood

February: James Andre Smarrt-Ford, 16, shot, Streatham
Michael Dosunmu, 15, shot, Peckham
Billy Cox, 15, shot, Clapham

March: Kodjo Yenga, 16, stabbed, Hammersmith
Adam Regis, 15; stabbed, Plaistow

April: Paul Erhahon, 14, stabbed, Leytonstone

May: Dwaine Douglas, 18, stabbed, Thornton Heath
Danielle Johnson, 17, stabbed, Wood Green

June: Sian Simpson, 18, stabbed, Croydon
Annaka Keniesha Pinto, 17, shot, Tottenham
Ben Hitchcock, 16, stabbed, Beckenham
Martin Dinnegan, 14, stabbed, Islington
Abu Shahin, 18, stabbed, Ilford, Essex

July: Abukar Mahamed, 16, shot, Stockwell

August: Nathan Foster, 18, shot, Brixton

Picture: (left to right, top to bottom) James Smartt-Ford, Michael Dosunmu, Billy Cox, Kodjo Yenga, Adam Regis, Paul Erhahon, Annaka Pinto, Ben Hitchcock, Martin Dinnegan

Via: Fortress Australia