Whether it is Victorian-era pick pockets, the "Peaky Blinders" organised crime groups of the early 20th century or post-war knife wielding "Teddy Boys", gangs of young people have long been seen as a social problem of the inner cities that policymakers have sought to contain. That is still the case today, with a recent spike in youth knife-related crime - both as perpetrator and victim - hitting the headlines and prompting a youth serious violence summit to be convened at 10 Downing Street.
A key feature of gangs - going back to when Charles Dickens wrote Oliver Twist - is how gang leaders, usually adults, first lure children into the lifestyle and then criminally exploit them once control has been gained. The methods exploiters use may have changed over time, but it is society's vulnerable children who remain most at risk today.
The government has responded to the recent surge in gang-related violence with a range of enforcement measures, creation of new bodies to co-ordinate agencies' response and more funding for organisations on the ground to deliver support. However, critics argue the response has been piecemeal when what is needed is an overarching strategy.
CYP Now's special report on gangs and child criminal exploitation (CCE) assesses latest research on the threats posed by gangs and CCE, the key policies developed to tackle the issue and examples of how statutory and voluntary organisations are supporting victims and those at risk of exploitation.
Click on the links below for more:
Keeping Kids Safe: Improving Safeguarding Responses to Gang Violence and Criminal Exploitation
Relocation, Relocation, Relocation: Home and School-Moves For Children Affected by Extra-Familial Risks During Adolescence
Towards a Contextual Response to Peer-on-Peer Abuse: Research and Resources From MsUnderstood Local Site Work 2013-2016
That Difficult Age: Developing a More Effective Response to Risks in Adolescence
Leading the fight against county lines gangs in Kent
Services collaborate to tackle CCE in South Yorkshire
Mediation helps Bengali young people leave gangs behind
HITZ teaches young people the values of resilience