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This essay will be explaining the causes of the increase in violence and deaths of young people due to guns, knives and gangs, it will discuss the various policing challenges this then presents. The killing of teenagers and youth in London and many other cities in the last few years has triggered public concern and media attention widely, which has resulted to a variety of initiatives to tackle the concern of knife and gun crime among the youth. There has been such a high level of tragic events that have been publicized and therefore raised a major concern that violent crime among the youth people is rising. On the other hand this is not a fact of a consistent problem covering the whole UK, but rather a problem mainly in certain urban locations (squires et al 2008).
The important risk factors for the youth committing violent crimes include their individual characteristics, and also their relationship with their family and parents whether it is good or bad as it produces two different results as If the young person has family issues such as family management problems, conflict within the family, or their parents engage in problem behaviour and approve of it this will make the young person think it is ok to also take part in such behaviour (Silvestri et al. 2009; p15). Their routine in school and how well they are doing, what school they go to, and whether they have friends who engage in violent offences themselves, as In school if the young person has early and persistent anti social behaviour or academic failure beginning in their early school years it raises a very high risk factor of them then later on engaging in criminal offences (Silvestri et al. 2009; p16). Also if their friends engage in serious and violent juvenile offending then they will be likely to then follow their friends path to fit it (Silvestri et al. 2009; p18)., whether the individual engages in other crimes such as illegal drug use, and alcohol use (Silvestri et al. 2009; p15). also whether they have been involved in violence either as a victim of it or as a passerby, witnessing violence amongst other people (Silvestri et al. 2009; p15). Risk factors are increasing and the more an individual young person has, the higher the chance of them engaging in violence. Young people whose early lives show proof of numerous risk factors are commonly thought to be more likely to become involved in persistent criminal activity (Silvestri et al. 2009; p15). Within the community the availability of weapons such as knives help make it easier for the youth to engage in serious violent crime as it is easier to get hold of them, finally an also community disorganisation and extreme economic deprivation pushes people to crime as the decline in the job market makes it difficult for a young person to not engage in crime as such (Silvestri et al. 2009; p18).
Poverty and inequality have become well-established in areas where, in the deficiency of employment or important material assistance, involvement in crime may be one of the ways people can make a living and so may have to engage in it to do so (Elliott et al 1996). The lack of economic opportunities for young people was one of the main problems in which triggered the growth in both the US and the UK of illegal economies around drugs, stolen goods and protection (Klein 1995, Braga 2003). A UK study of convicted gun offenders concluded that Illegal drug markets appear. In communities suffering from 'capital disinvestment' and lack of social capital, young people are more likely to drift into' cultural adaptations' that bring short term status and material benefits, but which longer term consequences include diminished life chances (Hagan 1994; see also James 1995 and Kramer 2000). Often the only way to preserve a local reputation is through being violent and using weapons (Hales et al 2006, Heale 2008, Pitts 2008, Sandberg 2008). Carrying a knife may appear to make sense to a teenager worried about being attacked, especially in an area where stabbings or threats with knives are common (Silvestri et al. 2009; p18). However, while protection may be an preliminary motivation for weapon carrying,' aggression may be the result' (Lemos 2004).
A gang is an organization of two or more individuals who form an agreement for A common purpose the gang identifies with and claims a territory in the community and engages individually or collectively in violence and other criminal activity (ref). The main question that should be asked is why do these young people join gangs in the first place and why they feel it's necessary to commit criminal acts within the gang. These reasons can be for 'safety, friendship, status, recognition, curiosity, excitement, money, out of a sense of tradition due to generational commitment, peer pressure and drug abuse' (youth justice board, 2007; p9). Being in a gang gives a sense of power and control over a specific area, a certain group of people and even their own lives (youth justice board, 2007; p9). Feeling wanted and loved, giving and receiving love are crucial terminology for a gang member, as for everyone in society. This is most evident in the way they commonly refer to the gang as their "family." Being part of a gang gives them a sense of belonging, of pride and honour (youth justice board, 2007; p9). They feel they are accounted for and that they are contributing to something bigger than themselves. They also receive guidance, shelter and money. The gang becomes the member's sole source of survival, a substitute or replacement family that provides optimistic support, direction, focus and a sense of purpose, which develops into a strong sense of "blind" commitment and loyalty (youth justice board, 2007; p9). In exchange for this sense of security and love, this new "family" expect their members to accept all their philosophies and set of laws and happily participate in violent actions and crimes for the survival of the gang (youth justice board, 2007; p9). So therefore many people believe that the break down in family life of the young people is one of the main reasons of the rise of gang culture.
This can be explained in more depth and knowledge With Abraham Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs Theory. "We each have a hierarchy of needs that ranges from lower to higher. As lower needs are fulfilled there is a tendency for other, higher needs to emerge." Maslow's theory upholds that a person does not feel a higher Need until the needs of the current level are satisfied. The external needs include; Physiological - food, air, water, clothing and sex, Safety - protection, Belonging - affection, stability, pain avoidance, routine and order, acceptance and inclusion, Esteem - self-esteem, self-respect, respect of others and respect by others, Self-Actualization - achieve full potential and achievement. The internal needs include; self-confidence, love, health, as well as, emotional and spiritual Security. If these needs are not met then it could form two different results, one being the price in which they pay for example the youth would join a gang to receive their basic needs of love, supervision, guidance etc and the other would be what they engage in doing to others which could be to gain "respect" they show how "tough" they are by engaging in physical violence to another person by either criticually injuring them or in some sceneroes causing death.
The riots that occurred in august 2011 made recognition to the people in the united kingdom of how serious youth violence and gang issues have become (May. T, MP, Ending Gang and Youth Violence Report, 2013; P:2). 20% of those arrested in London due to the riots were in a gang (May. T, MP, Ending Gang and Youth Violence Report, 2013; P:2). But the fact that so many young people, who are not involved in gangs, were still willing to carry out such serious acts of violence and disorder simply underpins the urgent need to deal with youth violence (May. T, MP, Ending Gang and Youth Violence Report, 2013; P:2). it is clear that serious police action is needed to help stop the violence of youth and to meet justice.The Government has already set in action a number of reforms to address the educational and social failures that can bring alive problems like gang and youth violence (Ending Gang and Youth Violence Report, 2013). The welfare reforms will give young people better opportunities to access work and overcome barriers to employment. The education reforms aim to raise pupil performance and increase participation in further study and employment.
'In October 2008 the home office (2008) announced that over 2,200 knives were detained from the stop and search operations'. The home office (2008) did not think that the stop and searches really helped in reducing violent crime and came to a result that this problem could not be resolved just with the police trying alone (brookman et al 2003). It was then, when it was taken into account to look at reducing knifes actually being sold to people and by doing this retailers were informed to not sell knives to everybody especially minors (brookman et al 2003).
The approaches used by policies in the UK to tackle this problem is a 'hot spot' theoretical framework in which they target specific areas that has been indicated is being at particular risk of violence. for example the governments tackling knives action program focused on ten areas, the tackling gangs action program targeted gang related firearms offences focused on four police force areas which was the west midlands, greater Manchester, Merseyside and London. Anti knife operations concentrates mainly on areas where the youth gather together and commit crime like for example public transport intersections and city centre's such as shopping malls etc. In England and Wales the home office 'tackling violence action plan' and the 'youth crime action plan' introduced in 2008 specifically concentrate on targeting weapons. The government had also put into practice a 'tackling knives action program' which was launched in 2008 to provide ' tough enforcement combined with education, prevention work and information campaigns' (youth justice board 2008a). It is aimed to ten areas in England and Wales and counts among its initiatives the introduction of after- school patrols and dedicated police officers in schools with intention to promote safety and work with the youth at risk and is part of the safer school partnership programme (home office 2008c).
Problem oriented policing and community safety initiatives have made a positive impact on preventing gun violence. They target hot spots and groups such as youth offenders and gang members that could primarily get involved in such criminal acts. They work with probation, local authorities and social services to help achieve their goal. they are locally-tailored, research-based interventions (Koper and Mayo-Wilson 2006). The violent crimes where seen to occur in certain areas and so they were targeted mainly. Those people involved in such acts were those who live in neighbourhoods with poverty and educational failures with limited employment opportunities (such as council flat etc) (Klofas et al 2007). Due to this the approaches taken by 'problem oriented policing' was to use deterrence strategy which involved focusing on criminal justice and social service attention on small numbers of persistent offenders (Braga et al 2008). the 'pulling levers' strategy aimed to control the violence by focusing on a specific audience by using criminal justice interventions. They believed it was important to talk directly with the people involved in gun violence so that they were aware of the effect their actions would have on others and themselves in order for the word to spread between those groups involved (Braga et al 2008). Evaluation research has shown that the pulling levers deterrence strategy is Effective in reducing gun violence among serious young offenders, with a Correlation between increased arrests and reductions in gun-related homicides (Sherman 2001).
In England a program was introduced called the 'ceasefire' program and the 'Manchester multi- agency gang strategy', this was put forward after the home office study in 2002, which was a problem-oriented policing intervention that looked at violence, gangs and guns in Manchester. The results found showed that gun violence and deadly shootings arised mostly in part of the city and 'weaknesses in services such as social services, health and education added to the problem as much as criminal justice issues did' (BBC news 12/12/08). The carrying of firearms by gang members is partly protective and partly symbolic, though they are sometimes used in the commission of violent crime (Bullock and Tilley 2002, 2008). The objectives of the MMAGS project were multi-faceted and included: enforcing the law through multi-agency, targeted action, to secure convictions and deter from gang and gun crime. Providing young people with education and employment opportunities as positive alternatives to gun and gang crime, also giving support to victims, witnesses and to the most vulnerable young people and Families. Rehabilitating those convicted of gun crime and gang-involved offending. Gang-related shootings in the city fell by a third in the three years since MMAGS Came into operation, although there is no evidence that this change can be directly attributed to the program. The MMAGS team claim to have worked with around 200 'targets' and scored some notable successes in turning gang members' lives around. Some have gone on to higher education or employment away from Manchester (Squires et al 2008).
In Scotland, the violence reduction unit is a national police body which targets all violent behaviors using public health approach. Scotland is the only country in the world at the moment that has come up with such an approach and these units are the only police members in the world health organization's violence prevention alliance. The VRU believes it is vital to address the societal and attitudinal aspects and that closer links with the educational, parenting and health agencies are needed to change the behavior. This helps support parents and teachers of young children (squires et al 2008). The VRU is trying out a number of ways to deal with the knife crime problem that exists in the city, including the unspecified recording of violence related injuries at Glasgow royal hospital. 25% of those people who are treated for a serious facial injury in Glasgow dental hospital return for treatment for a second injury within a year, and so the VRU has set up a project in two maxillofacial units, whereby nurses offer counseling to patients to help them understand how they got the injury in the first place and to help prevent them coming back.
The Home Office, along with other government departments, have come up with many ways to end gang culture and youth violence in the uk. They launched the Communities against guns, gangs and knives fund to help the police, local agencies and the voluntary sector fight knife, gun and gang-related violence. in November 2012, the Home Office introduced the report called ending gang and youth violence that is shown in the crim survey statistics today that violent crime has reduced.
In conclusion I feel the rise in deaths of youth due to knives and guns is because of the lack of family relationships and the upbringing of the children and where they are brought up. I feel it is due to these youngsters feeling like they want to be a part of something in which they feel they are worthwhile and that they are achieving something and they do this by resulting to criminal acts in which they feel is a way of giving back something to the gang they are in as the gang becomes their family and home. Also I feel the lack of opportunity for jobs today have been a reason for people to engage in crime as the young people are not seeing a reason to study and get a degree as the chance of then getting a well paid job is very limited and so they find it easier to go out there and make money in the way they feel they have to, and if this means they have to engage in violent acts then they do so. The police problems that arise is that the police alone are in capable of preventing such crime as it is more than just locking someone up or catching someone in the act it is more to rehabilitate and deter such youth and in order for success to be met is by the police working with local authorities and others to help the youth understand what they are doing is wrong. I feel that it will never be 100% successful as if it was to be instead of crime increasing within the years it would have been decreasing and so the actions taken towards prevention of such crime are clearly not working and new approaches should be looked into as a result. However figures in the crime survey for England a wales from the end of 2012 showed that crime rates had fallen. crime has fallen again in the last year with drops in violence, sexual offences, homicides, drug crime, offences involving knives and firearms, burglary and criminal damage. This shows us that reforms produced by the police and home office are actually working and that they must now be doing something right.