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Knife crime, gangs and youth violence

The vast majority of young people are not involved in gangs, guns or knife crime and want nothing to do with them. However, the behaviour of the small number of young people who are involved has a significant impact on communities, on their families and associates, as well as themselves.

There are many 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, for protection from other gangs due to exploitation by an Organised Crime Group (OCG)

A gang could simply be a group of friends that all like doing the same things. The word takes on a new meaning when a group of friends gets involved in criminal activity.

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 they 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, for protection from other gangs or due to exploitation by an Organised Crime Group (OCG).

Potential School Support

Following the notification or disclosure of actual involvement in gangs and/or violence by a young person to an adult in school, the following actions should be considered:

  • School staff will need to follow the procedures outlined in their Child Protection/Safeguarding Policies and discuss concerns with the designated member of staff for child protection.
  • Consult Solihull LSCB guidance for practitioners across the children’s workforce to help them understand the nature of the risk that gang activity poses to children both through participation in and as victims of gang violence, how signs of gang involvement may manifest themselves and how to deal with such issues.
  • Funded and supported by the Home Office, the NSPCC is providing a 24-hour helpline (0800 800 500) to help parents, carers or any other adult worried about a child or young person at risk from gang-related activity. This includes children and young people who are not themselves in a gang, but may be at risk of being targeted by gang members.
  • Searching, screening and confiscation: advice for schools – DfE advice explaining the powers schools have to screen and search pupils and to confiscate items may be of pertinence where pupils are suspected of possessing items that may compromise their safety or that of others.
  • Consider submitting an intelligence form to the police with any information relating to Gangs, Youth Violence and County Lines. Using a Partnership Information Report (WG403) and submit it by email to

Curriculum (Universal provision through planned PSHE)

  • High quality PSHE which includes appropriate learning around peaceful conflict resolution, anti-bullying, rights, responsibilities, the law, drugs & alcohol.
  • Opportunities within a range of curriculum areas to explore risk, risky behaviour and why such behaviour might occur e.g. literacy texts, drama.
  • Opportunities to learn about and develop ‘protective behaviours’ i.e. listening to what your body is telling you when something feels wrong, no problem is too big, small or awful to be shared with a trusted adult.
  • Healthy Schools Islington have produced a teaching resource aimed at year 6 children entitled Keeping Safe Out and About. The lesson plans have been written teachers in primary schools who want to teach about the risks of participating in anti-social behaviour, gangs and gang related behaviour and keeping safe in the local area.
  • True Tube provides videos, lesson plans and assemblies for RE, PSHE and Citizenship for key stages 3 & 4. These include materials that will support schools in addressing the issue of guns, gangs and knife crime.
  • Safe: Risks and choices out and about provides a series of lessons linked to personal safety, risky behaviour and violent crime for secondary age pupils.
  • The Values Versus Violence programme produced by the Dot Com Children’s Foundation has been developed to provide children with an awareness of risk and risk management including issues around bullying and crime and disorder.
  • Triple V (Values Versus Violence) is Dot Com Children’s Foundation’s resource for secondary schools. The VVV resources aim to empower young people by helping them to develop positive behaviours and learn how to keep themselves and their friends safe. This includes They provide opportunities to discuss criminal behaviour and victimisation in a safe environment and, as a result, they lead to changes in behaviour. The Watch Over Me series is a broadcast-quality “soap opera” which engages young people and helps them create their own strategies for dealing with risk. It is a classroom tool which stimulates discussion and helps pupils feel safe enough to talk about the most challenging issues which affect personal safety.

Involving other agencies and signposting


Free, confidential service where you can report information about a crime anonymously.
Freephone: 0800 555 111

Updates and changes


These pages are updated regularly and should be used as the main source of information.  Printed versions should be used with care as they can become out of date.