This month’s Prevent bulletin is about gang culture on the rise in 2018

Update (15/10/2018): Several spelling mistakes were found recently, this has now been amended both in the post and in our offline version

On Thursday 06th September ITV aired a programme with Ross Kemp and the Armed Police in Birmingham. This was a one off documentary where Ross Kemp followed the Armed Police throughout the Birmingham area looking at the crime levels in the city. Sadly gang Culture, knife and gun crime are all heavily on the rise and due to the high levels of activity it has become very difficult for the police to stamp down and put a stop to it once and for all.

In the documentary Ross Kemp wore a bullet proof vest and accompanied armed police on house raids in the Birmingham suburbs declaring “There is a sad irony for me, that I am standing outside a suburban house in Birmingham, wearing the same kit I wore in Iraq and Syria…”

During the documentary Ross Kemp interviewed a drug smuggler who claimed that the police have completely lost control over the importing of illegal fire arms in to the UK. The show saw police recover fire arms from properties within the Birmingham area, Ross Kemp told the viewers “this is happening on a daily basis.”

During the documentary a police officer who is head of department at the fire arms unit stated… “From 1991 to now, it’s a different world, If I took one of the more experienced officers from then and brought them down here now, they wouldn’t be able to believe what they’ve seen. It’s totally and utterly changed.”

He then went on to say that the gun trade is most likely linked to drug dealers, by saying “they go hand in hand.”

He then raised concerns about children getting pulled in to gangs and being used to fire guns, or use weapons when they haven’t got a clue what they are fully getting themselves in to. They aren’t fully aware of what the bigger picture holds, they feel being part of a gang brings them protection, when in fact it completely puts them in the spotlight as a target for criminal activity and possibly death.

If you didn’t see Ross Kemp Armed Police, then clips of this are available online.

Leaving the gang behind

Leaving a gang that you’re a part of can be an extremely difficult decision to make and can come with dangerous consequences, however with the right support it is possible.

Growing up in Gangland…

Jermaine Lawlor is an ex gang member who decided to break away from gang life, a life of crime, death and constantly running from the law and he has turned his life around. By the time Jermaine was nine he has been kicked out of four schools and by the time he was 11 he had been arrested. As a teenager he was dealing drugs and had been drawn in to gang culture.

Growing up Jermaine said he wasn’t surrounded by many positive role models in his life, which was a contributing factor of being drawn in to the gang at age 13. By age 15 Jermaine had become part of an older group and said it suddenly felt like the real world. He admitted that the gang related crime then escalated to gang activity consisting of dealing drugs and robberies.

Jermaine spent years of his life being arrested for criminal activity and has openly said when you get caught you are on your own, where is the gang then? They don’t have your back when you’ve been caught, your on your own!

Jermaine turned to his faith and decided to change his lifestyle completely, this wasn’t without fear or repercussions but he has admitted that if he had continued on this destructive path he would of ended up in prison serving a life long sentence or worse, dead. He has since set up a training, consultancy and mentoring programme to support young people to get away from gang culture and to educate them of the dangers associated with being a gang member. Voice4YouthAgainstViolence has been set up to change lives.

Voice4YouthAgainstViolence

“I thought they had my back, but when things get bad and there’s a risk you’re going to get caught, you’re pretty much out on your own.”

“Ten of my friends were killed and many others were going to prison. Attending all those funerals was a real pull factor to get out of that life. The fact so many people were telling me I was going to go to prison or die, and that I was spending so much time in churches for funerals made me think.”

“Gangs have become more violent and with much younger members. There is more violence because it’s easier to access guns. It was hard when I was doing it, but it’s scarily easy now. The general public is not aware how easy it is for a minor to get hold of a firearm.”

“Once I made those changes, I lost a lot of my so-called friends.”

Related links

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You can find the offline version of this bulletin here