On this page we'll look at the following, simply click on the links below to be taken straight to the section.
Knife crime includes stabbing someone. But it's also illegal to:
If you carry a weapon, you are more likely to:
Knives can cause serious injury or even death. People who carry knives may not ever plan to use them or hurt anyone but they may find themselves in a situation that gets out of control.
Someone might want to carry one because they:
The effects of knife crime aren't always what you think - even when no-one gets injured.
Get caught and you face a prison sentence of up to five years. That's just for possessing a knife in a public place.
If you hurt someone there will be other charges to answer and you could go to prison for longer.
No parent or grandparent wants to think that their child or grandchild is going to have to go to prison. For many, the only nightmare that's any worse is the thought of you getting injured or killed.
Any brothers and sisters you have will be devastated at the prospect of you not being around for months or even years. They could face lots of hassles at school and on the street too - and you won't be around to stick up for them.
If you pull a knife on someone their mates could come looking for you at home. This could put your family in danger, as well as your friends.
If you get convicted for a knife crime you'll have a criminal record. Sentences over 30 months stay on your record for life.
People with criminal records - especially for violent behaviour - find it much more difficult to find employment.
You can also be barred from doing some jobs altogether, like working around children, young people or the elderly, or even being a bouncer in a pub or club.
Criminal records for violence also make it harder to get into college or university.
Lots of countries don't let people in who have criminal records, like the USA, Canada and Australia - even just on holiday.
Antisocial behaviour (ASB) is defined in law as behaviour which causes, or is likely to cause, harassment, alarm or distress to others. Some examples of this behaviour include: noise nuisance, such as playing loud music or slamming doors. using or threatening violence.
Antisocial behaviour may include things such as:
Anti-social behaviour doesn’t just make life unpleasant, it can ruin lives and make the area feel unsafe.
Criminal Behaviour Orders (CBOs) are made by the criminal court following an application by the prosecutor, either on their own initiative, or following a request from the Police or Council. An application can be made following conviction for any criminal offence where the court is satisfied, beyond reasonable doubt, that the offender has engaged in behaviour which caused or was likely to cause harassment alarm or distress AND that the court considers that making the order will help prevent the offender from engaging in such behaviour in future. A CBO can be made against anyone aged 10 or above and can include positive requirements on the offender requiring them to address the underlying causes of their behaviour. For example this may include attendance at a drug or alcohol clinic or attendance at a job readiness course. Breach of a CBO is a criminal offence. For over 18’s, the maximum penalty is five years imprisonment and for a person aged under 18, the sentencing powers in the youth court apply.
Civil Injunctions can be sought in the County or High Court for over 18s and the Youth Court for under 18s on application by the Police, Council, Registered Social Landlord, Environment Agency or NHS Protect. Whilst Civil Injunctions are similar to CBOs in that they can include prohibitions and positive requirements, applications are generally made before any criminal conviction. The Civil Injunction is aimed at stopping individuals from engaging in anti-social behaviour quickly, nipping problems in the bud before they escalate. The Council and Police already use early intervention tools, such as Fairway letters and Acceptable Behaviour Contracts, successfully once we have evidence to prove that a person is behaving antisocially. However, Civil Injunctions will be considered if these do not address the behaviour or where there is an immediate need to obtain a civil injunction to protect members of the public or employees and contractors.
Acceptable Behaviour Contracts – provide an opportunity for individuals whose behaviour is not acceptable to enter into an agreement with the Council and the Police not to do specified things which it is alleged they have done in the past. During this time, perpetrators are provided with additional support to divert them away from their previous unacceptable behaviour. They last for a minimum of six months. If they are breached, this could result in an application to the Courts for a Civil Injunction.
Fairway letters are used as a way to inform parents/guardians that their child has been involved in antisocial behaviour. This gives parents a chance to deal with the behaviour within the family. Fairway letters can also be sent directly to adults where it is alleged they have engaged in antisocial behaviour.
Urban gangs are sending junior members to market towns or coastal villages, where they run increasingly sophisticated drug dealing franchises. The gangs recruit local rural children to do the grunt work while senior gang members manage operations from their headquarters.
Senior gang members don’t choose just anyone to go into the country. They need a workforce that’s easily controlled – so it’s often the youngest members who are put on the train.
Children as young as 12 are known to be transporting and selling drugs for urban gangs.
They can spend weeks at a time in the countryside, returning only when their supply is sold out. Orders from local customers are relayed to them via a dedicated phone line – the so-called ‘country line’ - which is usually manned by higher-ranking gang members back in London.
When an order comes in, the runners go out to deliver it.
Although it is not illegal to be a member of a gang much of the activity that criminal street gangs get caught up in is. If caught committing an offence you could end up with a longer sentence just for being part of a gang.
There are many different and complex reasons as to why people join gangs. It could be for status, to feel a sense of belonging, to make money, to earn respect or for protection from other gangs.
Status is a key factor that influences members of criminal street gangs. Having access to weapons provides a gang with an immediate status – as other rival gangs will be fearful. This is why many gangs pose with photos of guns and knives on their social networking sites - to ‘show off’ how easily they can access weapons.
It is illegal to carry a weapon and if caught they will face time in prison.
Many street gangs are involved with the supply and dealing of drugs. This can be a way that gangs make money. Dealing in drugs, like running a business has many different roles and levels of people controlling the entire operation. One emerging operation is negatively impacting the lives of thousands of young people is known as 'county lines'.
Gang members are moving into drugs markets outside their local area’s where they usually live and operate, particularly coastal towns, market towns, or commuter towns close to large cities because they are unknown to the local police, there is less competition locally from rival gangs, and non-metropolitan police forces tend to have less experience of addressing this type of activity. The exploitation of vulnerable people is central to county lines. For example, young people are groomed and/or coerced into moving or selling drugs, and the homes of vulnerable adults can be taken over as a base from which drugs are sold.
Cuckooing is a type of crime whereby a drug dealer befriends a vulnerable individual who lives on his or her own. The drug dealer then moves in, takes over the property, and turns it into a drug den.
A commonly recurring theme in county lines is the exploitation of children and young people. County lines operators often groom and use young people as ‘runners’, making them carry drugs or money to and from the areas where the operation has been established. This is often via train but also by car and coaches.
Children are also often made to stay over at the location (known as ‘the trap’ or ‘trap house’) and made to distribute the drugs in the area.
Some criminal gangs, usually as part of gang initiation, are involved in sex crimes and there has been a significant increase in cases of gang rape in the UK over the past 5 years. The role and relationship of girls in criminal street gangs is very complex. Girls affiliated with gangs are often used by multiple gang members to establish status, seek revenge and even used to lure rival gang members in honey traps.
Although criminal street gangs are predominately male only, there are some girl only street gangs operating in the UK too.
If involved with a criminal street gang it can be very difficult for members to leave. There are many organisations that can help and support young people with gang exit strategies.
Radicalisation is when someone starts to believe or support extreme views. They could be pressured to do things illegal by someone else or they might change their behaviour and beliefs.
This could happen if they feel:
Someone who has been radicalised might believe that sexual, religious or racial violence is OK. They may be influenced by what they see online and they might have links to extreme groups that preach hate (like Nazi groups or Islamic extremists like Daesh also known as ISIS or IS).
Having extreme views can be dangerous and this can often lead to harmful and illegal activities involving violence, attacks, discrimination or hate - which you could be arrested or sent to prison for. This can affect you and your future.
You might be unsure if something is wrong or not so it can help to think about the person you’re worried about. Ask yourself how well you know them? How do they usually behave? What kind of things do they usually do? And are you noticing anything different?
If someone is at risk of being radicalised they might:
If you’re worried about someone, it’s always better to get support, even if you aren’t sure.
Terrorism is when someone or a group of people use violence and fear to try to scare other people.
A person who does this is called a terrorist. A terrorist can look like anyone. They could be male or female, young or old and from any race or religion. They might use politics, religion or culture to make it seem like violence and hate are OK.
Any kind of terrorism is wrong.
When people have very strong opinions, these could become extreme.
People who have certain beliefs about politics or religions which are hateful, dangerous or against the law are often known as extremists. This harmful behaviour is called extremism.
Extremists might use violence and damage to express their views. Extremist racial or religious groups might use hate, fear or violence to control and influence people. You may have heard different groups mentioned, like Daesh, also known as ISIS or IS but there are other groups like Combat 18 who are also considered to be extremists.
Young people join gangs for lots of different reasons. Some of these include:
Hanging out with your friends can be a good way to get to know each other and share hobbies and interests but it can become dangerous if you join a gang that does illegal things like theft or gun and knife crime.
You don't have to join a gang if you don't feel comfortable or sure about things.
Being in a gang isn't against the law but being involved with illegal activities (that some gangs do) could be an offence.
You could go to prison or end up with a criminal record if you're involved with:
If you have a criminal record you might not be:
It's important to think about your future and how being in a gang can affect your life.
Some gangs are involved in crime, drugs, violence and other illegal activities. If you're part of a gang like this it can be dangerous.
It can also mean being:
It is important to think about your future and how being in a gang can affect your life. For example, not being able to finish school or college, not being able to get a job and not being able to ever feel safe.
How you leave a gang can depend on what your position is within the gang. It’s not always easy.
But it’s possible to leave safely and without any problems.
You might worry that:
You may want to think about the positive things in your life and want you want your future to be like.
It can be really worrying if you know someone who is in a gang and you want to help them. You don't have to cope with things on your own, you can talk to someone you trust to get help.
You could also try:
If you have seen or been involved in something in a gang reporting it can feel scary and confusing. You might worry about getting into trouble or making things worse. It's important to think about your future, your safety and what feels right for you. You don't have to deal with this on your own.
Here are some ways of reporting things: