On 17 June ARC sponsored a full-day workshop that was designed and facilitated by ARC Trustee, Dr Anne-Marie McBlain. This was held in Stoke-on-Trent for professionals working directly with young people involved with gangs and associated activities.
Participants included: police, youth offending team workers, educationalists, therapists, youth workers, public health officers, educational psychologists, and social workers who work in a variety of settings and areas including Stoke, Birmingham, Dudley, Warwickshire and Cheshire.
The aim of the day was to gain a ‘real-life’ national and local picture of gangs and associated activities and to scrutinise the available literature, official statistics and recommendations around this topic, in order to identify areas of strength, weakness and gaps where research might be carried out in the future.
A number of lively discussions ensued and data was collected from participants that will be collated and analysed further. A central theme to emerge was that no matter what strategies, services, agencies or procedures are used, the essential requirement was for genuine and stable attachment relationships at all levels and especially between agency workers and the young people in question.
The group concluded that with current restraints on funding and resources, it is increasingly difficult for families and agencies to establish and maintain these essential relationships. Furthermore, the sophistication of the techniques that gangs use to recruit and organise their businesses is rapidly developing at a pace that agencies and services cannot match. There is a desperate need therefore, to identify, establish and develop small scale, creative and flexible interventions in local communities that meet the specific needs of the respective populations and to share good practice and work collaboratively across boundaries and expertise. It is also essential that statutory services examine and modify their systems and practices to minimise the chances of systemic failures that can lead to increased opportunities for gangs and criminal organisations to recruit and exploit vulnerable young people.
We hope to hold a full special national conference on this topic in Birmingham.
The projected date is March 10, 2020