This blog is to capture all articles relating to good work including initiatives and successes with regards to gangs (predominantly in London), but also good news stories involving young people more generally.

If you have a good news story or something positive to promote please get in touch at

Friday, 23 January 2015

London Street Gangs: A modern history (aiming to complete 2015...2016 bit late)

Been putting together bits and pieces from the old website, well sourced and referenced, in a chronological order - "London Street Gangs: A modern history".

Obviously given the nature of the website, it is largely a catalogue of crime and violence across London which will cover all races and nationalities.

Available Parts: 1980's

Part One: Young Raiders Posse
Part Two: The Farm
Part Three: The Yardies
Part Four: Operation Shampoo

Coming Next:

Part Five: Brixton Bwoy - British born groups, securities industry (late 1980's)
Part Six: Blondie - Stoke Newington police drug squad corruption (late 1980's)
Part Seven: National Front and Eltham Krays - racist gangs (early 1990's - some reference to 1970's)
Part Eight: Tuffy and Tyson (early 1990's)
Part Nine: 28's (early-mid 1990's cases)
Part Ten: Venom - Phillip Lawrence case, Triad influenced crews (mid-1990's)

The intention is that these parts, articles, will cover everything right through until the 2011 riots.

Probably will also look to critique how the Metropolitan Police response to gangs since 2012 has contributed to the proliferation of London gang crime into many surrounding counties, "infecting" previously unaffected towns with gangs - Surrey, Sussex, Kent, Essex, Norfolk, Suffolk, Hampshire etc..

Also, how "gangs" have adapted in response to police tactics and intelligence gathering by linking up with one another, shedding the old definers and symbolism that was rife in the 2007-2011 period (such as colours, hood videos and social media pages that are now seldom found), and how they have become more organised and focused around financial gain over conflicts.

Thursday, 10 October 2013

Another Miscarriage Of Justice In The Case Of Asher & Lewis Johnson

From JENGBA (Joint Enterprise, Not Guilty By Association) - see more at

“Five charged with stabbing a suspected gangster, Thomas Cudjoe, to death in the garage forecourt of the Shell petrol station in Ley St, Ilford.”

On the evening of Friday November 2nd 2012 Asher Johnson (aged 24) attended an old neighbour’s birthday party in Ley St, Ilford.

During that evening Asher decided to meet up with a couple of friends in the Bell pub for a couple of drinks before his friend picked them up later in a car to go clubbing.

Asher Johnson’s younger brother, Lewis Johnson (aged 21), arrived later at the pub on his own at 12pm and the idea was to have a few drinks, play pool and wait for their friend to arrive later.

Once the brothers had finished drinking and decided to leave the pub (which backs on to the forecourt of the petrol station) there was an altercation between Asher Johnson and Thomas Cudjoe.

Lewis Johnson stood back during this whole ordeal and did not get involved in any way whatsoever.

Asher Johnson threw a couple of punches at Thomas Cudjoe and quickly withdrew from the scene with his brother Lewis Johnson, as a few other people arrived at the scene and Asher Johnson could tell that there was going to be some kind of further trouble which he did not want to be involved in.

After Asher and Lewis Johnson had departed from the scene, Thomas Cudjoe was stabbed to death by Jerome Green, the victim is said to have had 10 stab wounds to his chest and legs and also 4 slash wounds. Whilst Jerome Green was stabbing Thomas Cudjoe, Courtney Mitchell was holding the front passenger side door, therefore, preventing Thomas from escaping and as all of this was occurring, Reece Garwood was in the back of the vehicle, having a physical fight with the victim’s friend.

All 5 men were charged with murder under joint enterprise, even though it was clear on the CCTV that it was in fact Jerome Green who had committed the stabbing and murder.

On the CCTV it clearly shows that Asher and Lewis Johnson both withdrew from the scene before the weapon (knife) was produced and before any stabbing took place, and yet, they were still charged with murder.

During the trial the judge even mentioned that he had been watching the CCTV all weekend and that different charges must apply to the Johnson brothers, which could have been Violent Disorder or ABH (as manslaughter was not applicable to them) so therefore, they would be tried separately to the other co-defendants.

There was only one killer and this was admitted in court. On Friday July 26th 2013 they found the first 3 co-defendants guilty of murder, Reece Garwood and Courtney Mitchell being convicted on presence and Jerome Green for actually carrying out the murder. That same day, later in the afternoon, the jury also convicted Asher and Lewis Johnson of murder on a majority, rushed into a verdict in an hour as the Judge had somewhere to be at 4pm that day. The jury had also mentioned that they wanted to leave early as it was too hot. The judge had mentioned that if they did not reach a verdict in that hour then there would have to be a retrial for the Johnson Brothers.

This, the family feel, would have been much fairer as it can be noted that the judge seems to have pushed the jury into making a decision when they clearly had little guidance and no knowledge of the joint enterprise guidelines which were introduced in December 2012 to prevent mistakes such as the one made in this case whereby people are wrongly convicted.
Does this now lead to mean that if you argue with someone and that same person is later attacked when you have left the scene that you are guilty of murder? That is complete and utter madness!

The boys’ mother feels the trial was carried out unfairly, none of Asher Johnson’s good character was heard, and a deal was done which was all or nothing (guilty or not guilty of murder) which the family and Johnson brothers had no knowledge of. Two jury members were constantly asleep and one female jury member was seen crying on one occasion.

How in the United Kingdom can one be convicted of a crime he did not commit or did not foresee happening? How can a person be given a conviction of a crime like murder and then be told by their legal team that they cannot appeal, knowing the entire trial was a shambles and that the jury had evidentially made a mistake.

Asher Johnson

Asher Johnson is a loving son and brother, he has a further two younger siblings, a sister of 5 and a brother of 13. He has always been a kind, easy going and laid back, gentle young man. He has never been involved in any violence before. Asher Johnson was playing football for his local boroughs team at semi-pro level and was also working as a youth worker 3 days a week. Under no circumstances was Asher Johnson a gang member, he doesn’t even have any previous criminal record.

Lewis Johnson with his mother and grandmother

Lewis Johnson is also a very kind and caring brother and son, at the time of the incident prior to being in London for that particular weekend, Lewis Johnson was living with his grandma in Christchurch, Dorset; working for Thames Water.

The family are devastated, especially the mother, as they were told that the boys would receive lesser charges, never murder.

The family are currently waiting for the boys to be sentenced at the Old Bailey on Friday 13th September 2013. They are not accepting this miscarriage of justice and will be lodging a highly profiled appeal against this unbelievable conviction and yet to be known sentence.

Tuesday, 8 October 2013

Our gangs initiative backs event company spearheaded by former gang leader and pastor

Evening Standard

Karl Lokko with Pastor Mimi and his fiancee Cassandra Swaby, who works for their wedding planning enterprise NewBiggz

Published: 08 October 2013

It all started when a vigilant single mother decided to get her son out of a gang — and realised that the only way to save him was to save the whole gang.

Pastor Mimi Asher had little idea what her teenage son Michael was up to, but one day the police came and told her that he was a major member of a criminal gang.

“There were about 20 of them running around the Myatts Field Estate in Brixton causing mayhem and involved in territory wars, and as they started going to friend’s funerals, I got desperate,” said Pastor Mimi. So she did what few mothers would ever imagine — she invited the entire gang into her home and began to befriend them.

But to get back her son, she had to win over the leader, the formidable Karl Lokko, a 6ft 5in prize fighter with a ruthless reputation. “I didn’t like Karl because I thought he was a terrible influence on Michael and hard to reach, but I knew I had to try,” she recalled.

So Pastor Mimi asked Karl and the gang for dinner every evening and began to engage them in conversation about their lives.

The extraordinary relationship they forged would transform Karl’s life and lead — with the support of the charity Kids Company — to the creation of NewBiggz, a unique event planning social enterprise that we hope our readers will support.

Before Karl was a gang leader, he wanted to be an astronaut. He was a bright, voracious reader earmarked by his teachers as “gifted and talented” and he achieved top sets.

He came from a hard-working home on a south London estate; his father worked in security, his mother, a nurse, proudly called him “my genius”. But by his early teens, Karl’s life had taken a different turn.

From guns to roses: Karl Lokko, with gun, poses with his MAD gang in a picture that made the front pages of newspapers“There was no single turning point, just a gradual realisation that my studious ways did not serve me,” said Karl, now 23, whose quietly spoken manner belies his violent past. “I was a tall boy, but timid, and from the age of 12, I started getting mugged. They took my bike, my phone, they broke into my mum’s car, they beat me up, and I lived in fear of being robbed the moment I stepped outside our front door.”

For Karl, how to avoid being a target of crime became all-consuming. “I realised that in order to have immunity, I needed to join a gang, but none would have me, so I formed my own. There were three of us and we called ourselves MAD — for Max, Addict and Drowsy. I was Addict.”

It was innocent at first but things soon escalated. MAD grew to a 40-strong group that stood for “Mayhem And Disaster” and was known by the tabloids as the “Man Dem Crew” — especially after they made headlines for posting a provocative picture on the internet of themselves posing with guns. “I was apprehended at school and ordered to hand over the gun,” recalled Karl. “The police believed it was a real gun, but it was a replica and I got a caution. Other gangs, though, got the impression that we had a real live pump-action shotgun and suddenly we had big status.”

MAD dissolved as suddenly as it was formed and Karl, then 15, entered one of the main gangs in Brixton with considerable swagger. They were about 80 strong, with 20 core members. “It took one ambitious summer for me to go from victim to victimising,” he said. “The gang ran riot, mugging people for phones, selling drugs, stealing cars, joyriding.” But in 2006 Karl’s close friend was murdered by a rival gang.

“The night before our GCSEs, he got stabbed in the heart. His blood gushed from his body and propelled his T-shirt in the air. He and I had made the front pages for our gun picture and now he was dead. That night I did a lot of crying. It would be the last time I cried for years. It strengthened my resolve to scale up our defences and ensure that we never took another loss. It darkened me. That day I put on the mask of violence and then the mask took over me and I lost my core.”

Karl had taken his GCSEs in a blur, passed four, and was kicked out of sixth-form college on his first day. He had become totally embroiled in gang life and had been stabbed in the head, back and chest. “Normal local conflict,” he calls it.

Ordinary Londoners looked on helplessly as gang wars across the city intensified and the body count soared. In 2008, the year Karl turned 18, 30 teenagers were murdered in London, up from 26 in 2007, the worst two years on record.

To Karl, this extreme ratcheting up of violence was just regular life. “We had became the most feared, violent gang in south London,” he said.

He described the “natural progression” from knives to guns. “In 2003 when I was 13, if somebody had a knife, it was like ‘wow’, but by 2006, a knife wasn’t enough because everybody had a knife and who takes a knife to a gunfight?

“A gang member had to have a gun to be significant. Then, to be significant, he had to discharge that weapon. Then it became, he’s got a gun, but has he hit anybody? Finally it was okay, so a couple people got hit, but nobody has died. It was the common journey.”

It was at this point that Pastor Mimi entered Karl’s life. “Her son was deeply involved with me but she couldn’t perceive the scale of what we were up to,” Karl said. “She invited all of us into her home and cooked for us.

“At first she connected with one of my peers who opened up to her and laid it all bare. She didn’t judge him but tried to help. It gave me licence to do the same thing.

“She reeked of sincerity — she didn’t understand but she understood. After I laid it all bare, I remember seeing in her eyes this blend of fear, anxiety, empathy and pain. I remember looking at myself through her eyes.”

He lowered his head. “Words had never reached me or even scratched the surface, but the look in her eyes made me think, maybe there is something wrong with the way I’m living. At that stage, it was just a ‘maybe’. She saw potential in us, treated us like we were significant, like we were born to do something great.”

Watching them together — Karl towering over Pastor Mimi but gently deferring to her judgment — the respect between them was palpable. They laughed as Pastor Mimi recalled teaching him ethics as they baked apple crumble, “getting flour all over us, acting like children”. But leaving the gang was “the hardest thing I ever had to do”, said Karl. “I felt like I was divorcing my family. But once I had seen through the ideology, what I called gangsterism, there was no backsliding. I moved into Pastor Mimi’s place.

“I had grown up believing in a lie that had consumed my life and now I felt like the bearer of a great revelation, that gangsterism was not the answer. I felt I needed to tell other young people. It became my burden.”

At 21, Karl met Camila Batmanghelidjh who took him under her wing and he became a youth ambassador for Kids Company, helping to extricate people from gangs. “I have helped about 20 people come out of gangs,” he said. “One of the hardest things is they can’t get jobs. It can be so demoralising that it sends them back into the gang.”

MEANWHILE Karl, Pastor Mimi, Karl’s friends and some former gang members started organising community events, getting a name for their balloon artistry, cake decorating and for unearthing local talent, including DJs, MCs and singing groups such as The Soloettes.

In the last year they have organised a series of highly successful events, including a Black and White Christmas Ball for 400 people on a local estate, a Lambeth Love Feast for 300, weddings, community barbecues, sports days, movie nights, engagement parties and christenings.

Now, backed by a £10,000 grant from the Evening Standard Dispossessed Fund and supported by Kids Company, they have drawn up a business plan and formed a social enterprise.

When I met them at Pastor Mimi’s place, all they needed to get started was a name. My suggestion — “Karl and the Gang” — was laughed out of the room. “Epic fail!” said Karl. But my idea of a one-liner to advertise their group — “when you hire us, no need to bother about security!” — went down rather better. They had a sense of humour about themselves and an easy confidence about how far they had come. The next day they came up with NewBiggz.

Sonal Shah, chief executive of The London Community Foundation, the charity that looks after the Dispossessed Fund, was impressed by their creativity and passion: “Karl and his friends have been on a massive journey. They have found something they love doing, and can make money from, and with six people pitching in, and the right mentor support, this group have great potential.”

Karl, who plans to marry fellow wedding planner Cassandra Swaby next year, said: “We can’t wait to get our first bookings. We are six people with enormous energy and diverse talents. I promise that anyone who hires us for their event, however big or small, will get a dynamic, amazingly special event they will never forget!”

What are they? Founded by Karl Lokko, 23, and Pastor Mimi Asher, 43, this company — run by them and four friends — offers wedding planning, corporate events and private parties.

In their words: “NewBiggz stands for New Beginnings, the need to give second chances to people who didn’t get the best start in life. Some of us experienced violence and crime and have struggled to find support from society, so the temptation to embrace criminal gangs was ever-present. With backing, we steered away from this and have created something positive for ourselves and our community.”

Why choose them? Hiring event planning services is often perceived as a luxury only the wealthy can afford. They seek to make these services accessible to all and to offer customers a highly creative service at a competitive price.

What experience do they have? In the past two years, they have organised many community events in Brixton on an ad-hoc basis, including weddings, engagements, christenings, a Black and White Christmas Ball, themed parties and sports days.

Their social goals? They will offer employment and training to local youngsters with similarly disadvantaged backgrounds to themselves and source talent — such as live bands, solo artists, dancers, DJs, MCs and caterers — from their community network. They will reinvest 10 per cent of their net profit in community projects. By becoming a self-sufficient business, they will send out a positive message to the community.

How will their £10,000 grant from the Dispossessed Fund be spent? On a new website, logo and essential equipment, such as a van, balloon-inflating machine and infrastructure support.

How can you help? Ask them to quote on your special event. If you are an industry expert, offer to mentor them. To get the ball rolling, simply log on to You can also help Kids Company by making a donation at

Monday, 7 October 2013

Escaping the gangs: Our unique campaign to help young Londoners leave a life of crime

Evening Standard


Published: 07 October 2013

Today we launch a groundbreaking initiative to tackle London’s gangs.

An Evening Standard investigation revealed that a quarter of violent crime in the capital is committed by gang members and for too many young Londoners murder, stabbings and shootings are “the norm” .

It is obvious that far more needs to be done by David Cameron’s Government, by Mayor Boris Johnson and by ourselves as citizens.

We have decided to do something no British newspaper has attempted: back young people trying to put their gang life behind them and help them set up and grow social enterprises.

We will give each of these selected groups a £10,000 start-up grant from the Evening Standard Dispossessed Fund. After a careful selection process, we are funding three social enterprises: a removals company, an events planning company and a drama workshop group.

We have partnered with children’s charity Kids Company in the hope this will be the start of many initiatives with other gang members following suit.

But they will need your help. As Commander Steve Rodhouse, charged by the Police Commissioner with fighting gangs, said: “The police on their own cannot resolve this problem— tackling gangs is the responsibility of London as a whole.”

We need you, as readers of the Standard, to get behind these young people and their enterprises. We will demand action from those with the power to act. Together we hope to bring about a fundamental change.
See also

Once, their ‘business’ was violence and drugs. Now they need your support in their quest to become enterprising role models

The ex-cons who’ll take away your stuff… but only if you hire them!
How our campaign works

What are we doing? We are backing ex-gang members to establish and grow viable social enterprises as a means of escaping the criminal and gang-related cycle. We have assessed their business proposals and have approved three of them for a £10,000 start-up grant from the Dispossessed Fund.

What is a social enterprise? A business that has social objectives rather than simply the pursuit of profit for external shareholders. These social objectives may include investing in their community as they grow, such as to hire NEETS and other young people who are genuine about leaving gangs and reforming their lives.

Who are we partnering with? Kids Company, the charity founded by Camila Batmanghelidjh in 1996. They provide intensive practical, emotional and educational support to 18,000 vulnerable children, and their clients include gang members who are the most marginalised in our city. Kids Company will provide key-workers, business-development mentors and in-kind support to our social entrepreneurs.

Why are we doing this? Gang turf wars and postcode violence have been the scourge of London for a decade. New research by University College London reveals some Londoners growing up in war-zone-like ghettoes where the stabbing, shooting and murder of peers has become “normal”. Many young people realise that gang life is a one-way ticket to nowhere, but struggle to exit. This pilot project offers a way out and sets the ball rolling to explore new initiatives.

Which social enterprises are we backing?

All in All Transit, a removals business by Daniel Barnes and Michael Gonedro

NewBiggz, a wedding and events planning company driven by Karl Lokko

The FAB Arts Company, offers drama workshops, headed by Feras Al-Bakri

What are we asking readers to do?

To put business their way and simply give them a try

Industry experts may be able to offer mentoring and business advice

Once you have used them, to tell your friends and give them a reference
How to get in touch

You can log on to

You can help Kids Company by making a donation at

Monday, 30 September 2013

War on illegal drugs 'failing'

Evening Standard

Medical researchers say street prices of illegal drugs, such as cocaine, have fallen in real terms since 1990

Published: 30 September 2013

The so-called war on drugs is failing to curb supply despite the increasing amounts of funding being ploughed into law enforcement, medical researchers have warned.

Street prices of illegal drugs have fallen in real terms since 1990 while the purity of the substances has generally increased, a sign of increased availability, according to the research published in the online journal BMJ Open.

Most national drug control strategies have focused on law enforcement to curb supply despite calls to explore other approaches, such as decriminalisation and strict legal regulation, the report said.

It comes after Durham chief constable Mike Barton claimed decriminalisation was the best way to wrestle power away from criminal gangs.

Writing in The Observer, the national intelligence leader for the Association of Chief Police Officers also suggested the NHS should supply class-A drugs such as heroin and cocaine to addicts.

The BMJ Open study looked at data from seven international government-funded drug surveillance systems which had at least 10 years of information on the price and purity of cannabis, cocaine and opiates, including heroin.

The report said "the global supply of illicit drugs has likely not been reduced in the previous two decades" and added " the data presented in this study suggest that the supply of opiates and cannabis have increased, given the increasing potency and decreasing prices of these illegal commodities".

It concluded: "These findings suggest that expanding efforts at controlling the global illegal drug market through law enforcement are failing."

Co-author Dr Evan Wood, scientific chair of the International Centre for Science in Drug Policy, said: "T hese findings add to the growing body of evidence that the war on drugs has failed.

"We should look to implement policies that place community health and safety at the forefront of our efforts, and consider drug use a public health issue rather than a criminal justice issue.

"With the recognition that efforts to reduce drug supply are unlikely to be successful, there is a clear need to scale up addiction treatment and other strategies that can effectively reduce drug-related harm."

The United Nations recently estimated the illicit drug trade is worth at least 350 billion US dollars (£217 billion) every year.

The BMJ Open study also reviewed the number of seizures of illegal drugs in drug production regions and rates of consumption in markets where demand for illegal drugs is high.

Among the findings, the report said in Europe, the average price of opiates and cocaine, adjusted for inflation and purity, decreased by 74% and 51% respectively between 1990 and 2010.

Danny Kushlick, head of external affairs at think-tank Transform Drug Policy Foundation, said: "This research should serve as a wake-up call to policymakers to legally regulate drugs as an urgent priority.

"It's way past the time for our political leaders in Europe to explore effective alternatives to the war on drugs, which has been proved a catastrophic failure. Billions of dollars and millions of lives are at stake if they fail to act."

Wednesday, 25 September 2013

Frontline London: Gangbuster - 'It's not enough to lock people up... we offer them a way out'

EVENING STANDARD, Author David Cohen

Exclusive interview: Cdr Steve Rodhouse talks to David Cohen and Ian Walker

Game plan: Commander Steve Rodhouse aims to balance enforcement with prevention

Published: 26 September 2013

Tackling London’s 250 gangs, from violent street-level gangs to organised crime, is now the Metropolitan Police’s number one priority and this new urgency and focus has begun to have an impact on reducing violent crime. So said Commander Steve Rodhouse, the Met’s head of gangs and organised crime and charged by Commissioner Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe 18 months ago with the responsibility to “up the Met’s game concerning gangs in London”.

Speaking exclusively to the Evening Standard at New Scotland Yard and giving his first newspaper interview in a year, Mr Rodhouse said the research by University College London about Londoners growing up with shootings, stabbings and murder as “the norm” (as published in yesterday’s Standard) came as “no surprise”.

“We are very much aware that there is a cohort of people growing up in London for whom extreme violence is normalised because of what they have seen,” he said. “It is also unsurprising that many of these young people, perhaps let down by their families and other institutions, turn to gangs as a sort of surrogate family. Gangs are responsible for half of all shootings and a quarter of serious violent crime. It was very much the Commissioner’s thing when he came in two years ago that we need to tackle gangs as our top priority and that by doing so, we would make a dent in wider criminality.”

But taking on the gangs has required the Met to directly address its past failure to grasp a problem that has bedeviled London for a decade. Part of the issue, said Mr Rodhouse, who wove a fine line between not criticising his predecessors yet being frank about the failed strategy of the past, had been the attitude of denial by the Met towards gangs.

“We have completely changed the language of the Met around gangs and that is really helpful, because until you acknowledge a problem, until you stop hiding it away, you’re not going to be able to resolve it,” he said. It is instructive that prior to 2007, teenage homicides were not even collated by the police, despite the fact that they had been a highly visible problem since 2001. A Freedom of Information request revealed that 95 teenagers were murdered in the six years from 2001-6, as compared to 124 in the seven years since. Clearly, he added, the London riots in 2011 helped focus minds in the Home Office that gangs cannot be ignored.

In order to deliver, the Met reorganised itself by widening the remit of Trident from gun-enabled homicides to gangs. The establishment of Trident Gang Crime Command meant that 1,000 Trident officers were deployed to tackle stabbings, responsible for two-thirds of the teenage homicides since 2007 and a high proportion of gang crime, and not just shootings as before, which account for barely a fifth of deaths. In a stroke, this “centralised and brought consistency to the fight against gangs” which until then had been “inconsistent and erratic on a borough by borough” basis, he said.

So with 500 Trident officers deployed centrally and another 500 in the worst 18 boroughs, are we any nearer to declaring victory over the gang problem than we were six years ago when 26 teenage murders in a single year forced this issue up the agenda?

“We have made a good start, but it is too early to claim victory,” said Mr Rodhouse. He pointed to a 28 per cent reduction in stabbings of under-25s and a 20 per cent fall in gun crime in the 12 months to April, the first full year under his watch and the most significant decline in youth knife violence since 2009.

Of the 250 gangs known to the Met, 54 have been the most active, accounting for two-thirds of gang crime. There are about 3,500 gang members identified by the police across London, of whom 1,000 are in prison, tagged or on probation.

But there was also an acknowledgement, he added, that more enlightened preventative strategies were needed to eradicate gangs and that ultimately “you only suppress the problem through enforcement”.

Mr Rodhouse, 42, who lives with his family in Surrey, said: “We recognise that you don’t tackle gangs just by locking people up and that a wide array of overt and covert preventative strategies are needed. Our approach is to identify the most harmful individuals and gangs and offer them a way out, making it clear that if they don’t we will fully enforce the law.

“Having kids myself, I appreciate the life chances they have versus the challenges these gang members face. It makes total sense that our game plan now is to balance enforcement with prevention.”

How successful has diversion been? So far 55 gang members, he said, have been re-housed with their families through their Safe and Secure scheme, run by the Met’s charity, the Safer London Foundation. They are asked to sever ties with their former life and in return are given mentors, job training, counselling and a new start.

“One former gang member from Newham is now a stockbroker. Some are quite entrepreneurial and can do well with the right help. Lots of groups have failed to protect these people before they come into our hands, including parents, schools, social workers, and health visitors. An exit route is preferable because we can transform the problem rather than suppress it. No gang prevention strategy has ever worked anywhere unless you get people into a job and help make them economically viable.”

The Met has taken its pro-active strategies to 800 youth engagement events in 18 months, reaching 22,000 young people. There is no “single worst borough” in London when it comes to gangs, he said, though Lambeth, Southwark and Hackney were consistently up there as among the worst affected.

Does he have a message to ordinary Londoners? “That tackling gangs is a long-term challenge, that it is the responsibility of London as a whole, and that the police on their own cannot resolve this problem. Londoners can help by making it clear that gang violence in their community is not supported, by coming forward as witnesses and by being active in helping transform crime hotspots into opportunity zones.”

He cautioned against quick fixes. “This is a deep societal problem and cannot be solved overnight. We welcome the light the Standard is shedding on an area that concerns us all and are proud of the progress we have made, but if in five years we have reduced gang crime even further, maybe then we can talk about this being a turning point and a successful model. Right now, we power on, but it’s too early to say.”
The facts

3,500 - gang members in London identified by the police, belonging to around 250 gangs

1,000 - Trident police officers charged with tackling gangs

54 - highly active gangs responsible for two-thirds of gang-related crime

28% - decline in stabbings of people under 25 in the year to April, from 1,905 offences to 1,380

20% - fall in gun discharges in the year to April, from 496 to 397

55 - gang members whose families have been given a fresh start and re-housed as part of the Met’s Safe and Secure scheme

2,800 - gang members arrested and charged by the police in the last year

124 - teenage murders in London since January 2007, of which 80 were stabbings, 25 were shootings and 19 assault, arson or other

4,968 - serious youth violence offences (including stabbings and shootings) in the year to April, down by 28% from the previous year

Evening Standard: The Gangs of London – Leap’s response

Wednesday 25th September 2013

Read our response to the Evening Standard campaign: The Gangs of London

On Wednesday 25th September, the Evening Standard launched a new campaign called The Gangs of London. I think it’s great that the challenge of serious violence by and between young people is given such a strong prominence in London’s leading newspaper.

However, there’s a real risk that the article presents young people as a lost cause. We work in an alliance of national and London youth organisations (listed below), who feel strongly that we best serve the interests of young people by highlighting their potential and ability to take control of their lives – not by presenting them as determined purely by their circumstances.

Ricky’s story, as told in the article, is tragically similar to many of the lives of the young people we work with – except in one respect. In Leap’s experience – in its training of young people who carry weapons, offend or are in gangs – they have untapped talents, potential and resources and can take very impressive responsibility for their lives and for those around them. Leap’s programmes really challenge them to understand their relationship with anger, fear and excitement. They learn how to respond instead of react – to become role models instead of ring leaders. After 26 years of work we continue to be surprised and delighted by the heights that young people can reach overcoming their challenges.

We applaud the Evening Standard for starting the debate and hope this is the beginning of a more coordinated response. Now let’s hear from some young people who have more positive outcomes.

Thomas Lawson
Chief Executive
Leap Confronting Conflict

Alliance members:
Street League
Youth at Risk
London Youth
UK Youth
Foyer Federation

We asked Clark Short, 21 an apprentice at Leap what he thought about the first article:

“I feel like this campaign is writing off young people who are involved in gangs; it doesn’t show much hope for them to change which is sad and it makes it all sound so hopeless. It portrays all young people in such a negative way when actually it’s only a select group involved in these activities – lots of young people are contributing to society and doing great things, even if they’ve had problems in their lives. I don’t think it’s right to group all young people together like this.

It’s good that the problem of youth violence and gangs has been given so much attention by a big newspaper like the Evening Standard, hopefully more people will take notice and support young people to get out of gangs.”

Clark, 21 Leytonstone
Quarrel Shop Graduate and Business Support Apprentice at Leap

Monday, 9 September 2013

The gangs of Britain: New TV series reveals 100 years of organised crime

THE news is full nowadays of the predominance of criminal gangs in our cities.
By: Neil Clark Published: Mon, September 9, 2013

Menace: New BBC series Peaky Blinders depicts historic mob warfare [BBC]

A study published in July found that one per cent of men between 18-34 in Britain are gang members. Though we may be shocked by such statistics, the presence of gangsters in the UK is nothing new and existed long before the infamous days of the Krays in the Sixties.

Major new BBC drama series Peaky Blinders tells the story of one such gang that operated in Birmingham, England's second city, a hundred or so years ago. The Peaky Blinders made money from illegal bookmaking, protection rackets, the black market and robbery.

They were ruthless if anyone stood in their way and got their name from the razor blades they kept in the brims of their caps. "The Peaky Blinders are like the Borgias in nail boots. These are highly intelligent people surviving the only way they know how," says the series' writer Steven Knight, whose great uncles were members of the gang.

The Peaky Blinders were formed in the late 19th century but the series is set immediately following the First World War, obviously a time of great chaos and turmoil. Soldiers returning from the battle-fields found that instead of the "land fit for heroes" promised by politicians there were no jobs. Guns smuggled home from the front were in circulation. Revolution was in the air.

Cillian Murphy plays Tommy Shelby, the violent young head of the gang, traumatised by his wartime experiences. Helen McCrory is aunt Polly, the matriarch of the Shelby family. Sadistic chief inspector Campbell, played by Sam Neill, is sent over from Northern Ireland to break up the gang.

That post-war world provided plenty of opportunities for gangs to make money in gambling and extortion rackets. Betting was only allowed at racecourses, leading to a large illegal betting industry.

Bookmakers, shopkeepers and publicans were expected to pay protection money or receive a visit from the heavy mob.

Other cities had their own equivalents of the Peaky Blinders. Sheffield has a long gangland history. "During the First World War there were the Gas Tank Gang and the Red Silk and White Silk gangs who wore coloured scarves to denote their allegiances," says James Morton, author of The Mammoth Book Of Gangs.

After the First World War the Mooney Gang, run by army deserter George Mooney, took prominence. Its specialisation was extorting money from local businesses.

A cut in miners' wages meant less profits for the Sheffield gangs and there was a battle between Mooney and the Park Gang.

In 1923 the Park Gang stormed Mooney's house at Christmas but he hid in a cupboard. Gangland wars continued in Sheffield for several years and it wasn't until 1928 that the police managed to break the organisations up.

In Glasgow the Redskin gang was more than 1,000 members strong but there were others too. "In the early Twenties there were the Cheeky Forty and the Black Diamonds, who could each muster 100 a side," writes Morton. Battles were common. "In one fight two hard men slashed at each other with razors, stopped and went to hospital together to be patched up. The loser, however, continued his quarrel but this time hired a man from the Gorbals to do battle for him."

The Billy Boys were a Protestant gang and fought Catholic gangs. One year the Billy Boys fought the Catholic Norman Conk razor gang on nearly every bank holiday or Catholic Saints Day. Some gangs "graduated" from fighting to becoming general criminal enterprises.

Morton records how Glasgow's Beehive Corner Boys went from being a fighting gang "to a team of housebreakers, safe breakers and armed robbers".

London was the world's first gangland capital, with gangs establishing themselves there before moving on to American cities such as New York and Chicago.

In 1931, Frederick Wensley, a former commander of Scotland Yard, wrote: "Any reader of the papers these days might come to the conclusion that Chicago is the only place in which organised bands of criminals ever existed. The public have a short memory. It is not so very long ago that we, in the East End and some other districts of London, were engaged in stamping out groups of criminals, many of whom waged a sort of warfare among themselves and against the public."

At the turn of the 20th century the leading gang in the East End was the Whitechapel-based Bessabarabian Tigers, a 40-strong group of Russian-Jewish immigrants who levied protection tolls on shopkeepers and engaged in blackmail. The Italian Sabini Brothers dominated the London crime scene in the Twenties. Bottle parties, clubs, public houses, even ordinary shops had to pay protection money to the Sabini extortionists.

"No one dared to refuse," recorded Fifties crime journalist Duncan Webb. "If they did the Sabinis gave information to the police which compelled the law to act for some broken petty regulation.

Individuals connected with the premises were attacked in the streets. Proprietors of businesses finished up in hospital."

The Sabinis also made vast sums extorting money from racecourse bookmakers, taking as much as £20,000 on Epsom Derby day.

Charles "Darby" Sabini, like other gangland bosses, had his dos and don'ts. Women were to be treated with respect. He didn't like Italian youths to drink before they were 20. He also didn't like to witness too much violence himself. "Darby Sabini had a dislike of razor-slashing and even though he was to send razor teams in pursuit of his many enemies he always walked away when the cutting began," one of his sidekicks was to recall. In the Second World War and its aftermath food shortages and rationing meant rich pickings for black market gangs. With the internment of the Sabinis as enemy aliens, the Whites, a gang run by five brothers, took over. It was said no one could open a drinking club or illegal gambling den in the West End without their permission.

Brutal: The consequences of violence are common in the new series [BBC]

London was the world's first gangland capital

Shortly after the Second World War, the Whites' control was challenged by Jack Spot, the son of Polish Jewish immigrants who teamed up with fellow black marketeer Billy Hill. Spot and senior gang members tracked one rival leader to a bar off Piccadilly and hit him over the head with a bottle, while his minder was slashed with razors and stabbed. "I was the first man to realise that criminals could be organised, each crook becoming a small part of a master plan," Spot later boasted. He wasn't, because as we have seen, criminal gangs have a long history.

The gangs operating in Britain today may not wear flat caps with razor blades sewn into the seams but, clothes apart, they are merely the successors of the likes of the Peaky Blinders, the Sabinis and so many other nefarious associations which for so long have plagued our major cities.

Channel 4’S Top Boy Slammed For Reinforcing Hood Stereotypes

Viewers complain BAFTA-nominated drama does not offer a different narrative about the black experience in Britain
Written by Juliana Lucas
09/09/2013 12:14 PM

HEARD IT ALL BEFORE: Critics say black Brits deserve more alternative stories to shows like Top Boy

ANGRY TELEVISION viewers have taken to social media sites to complain about the new series of Channel 4’s Top Boy, starring Ashley Walters.

The widely-anticipated drama, which relied heavily on social media to promote the first season, returned to TV screens on August 20, but left some viewers unimpressed by its “one dimensional” representation of ethnic minorities.

When the show aired last month, author and blogger Dear Rob said: “Top Boy: another great series showing us black folk in a positive light. Drugs, guns, police and robberies. Fantastic.”

Many took issue with the depiction of poverty, gangs, and drug dealing on an east London estate, fuelled by lead character Dushane (Walters) and his friend-turned-rival Sully, played by Grime rapper Kane ‘Kano’ Robinson.

Young director Ola Masha argued that the BAFTA-nominated drama was an example of “lazy” storytelling because of “a one-sided narrative”.

The budding filmmaker added that the much-publicised stampede that occurred following an open casting call for season two had also discouraged him from tuning in.

He said: “I had to switch off in the midst of watching it because I believe it is a reinforcement of a negative stereotype that I cannot engage with.

“There is a problem with the lack of variety of films and TV shows depicting the lives of black people in Britain. When you see ethnic minorities portrayed on TV what do you see? Do you see them in positive or negative light? It is usually negative.

"This reinforces false perceptions and stereotypes and limits the opportunity to have different stories. The result is that this is how some people will view black people and expect us to behave.”

Echoing Masha’s sentiments, 23-year-old aspiring film director Rakheem Noble urged producers to create “positive alternatives about black families”.

He added: “I think the show offers one version of how life is in Hackney for some but not all…It does not show ambitious black people fulfilling education or pursing a career.”

But not everyone was panning the flagship TV programme. UK rapper Sway, who had a role in the first season, said: “So glad we have a show like Top Boy, despite what people might say it gives some insight to what really happens out here.”

Olivier Award-winning director Bola Agbaje said: “Always a debate when a show with black folks is out. We need to celebrate more. This happened to me with my second play Off the Endz. People reviewed it before it even came out.”

Gangsline - Targeted Against Gangs

Gangsline is one of a handful of organisations in the UK that has a proven track record of working and engaging with real gang members, on average we have engaged with 800 gang members per year since 2009, using our T.A.G Outreach Response Team (Targeted Against Gangs). T.A.G root out gang leaders by targeting the most deprived estates and often no go areas in London.

Our response team is mainly made up of former gang members and those who have been involved in the drugs trade, Gangsline's operation is now in Newham, Barking & Dagenham, Redbridge, Hackney, and by October will be expanding to Lewisham, New Cross, Deptford, and Peckham.

Gangsline's product has already been tested in Kingston Jamaica in 2008 in Tivoli Gardens, Rema, Trench Town and Maxfield Avenue, where violence is at its most extreme and over 100 predominantly young men die each month. Working with gangs in Kingston laid the foundation for what T.A.G does on the streets of London.

Gangsline is unique and is respected by many of the gangs in London and founder Sheldon Thomas has gained the respect of gangs in other parts of the UK, such as Manchester, Birmingham and Liverpool where he built up a reputation during the early the 1980s and 1990s whilst engaging with gang members. As a former gang member of the 1970s Sheldon Thomas' gang came from Brixton, they fought racists, police and the National Front before we getting involved in sounds systems, drugs distribution and violence, they were called the Blackmerier.

Professor Gary Armstrong ( has assessed the work of Gangsline from an academic perspective. The professor has been going around with T.A.G for over a year and has seen and experienced first-hand how we work with gang members, dealing with the mind-set and challenging emotional trauma with a spiritual dimension.

Further information can be found at, which has information that will help both parents and gang members, there is also a Gangsline helpline service 0800 032 9538 for anyone involved in this lifestyle to ring us, especially girls being sexually exploited and parents struggling to understand gang culture.

RISE Project (Respect, Inspire, Support, Empower)

The RISE project launched in August 2009 is an initiative designed by young people for young people. It responds to specific communities needs, developing young people’s skills and helping them to contribute positively to their community. The young people involved with the project will be supported to pass on their valuable skills via a peer mentoring system.

The project uses ‘Stick-it’ an innovative first aid programme (based on the Young First Aider package) which reaches out to communities affected by knife and gun crime as a recruitment tool to engaged with young people disengaged from mainstream education and training to teach them basic first aid skills to save lives. The unique feature of the project is that it is outreach focused, which sees the existing St John Ambulance opportunities taken out into the local community and tailored to meet the ever changing needs of local young people. This has proven successful to date as the take up of the project has been fantastic.

“Stick it” is a programme created by St John Ambulance youth members to develop young people and provide them with new first aid skills. Launched in 2008 the workshops raise the awareness of how to deal with an injury inflicted by a gun or a knife and challenges the opinion that carrying a weapon is acceptable.

As the nation’s leading first aid charity we knew we had something special to offer young people with am aim of discouraging them from carrying a weapon, which we to help young people. The programme is trained by young people for young people, this element of the programme is the one I believe is the most important, peer to peer learning enables young people on the course to both feel relaxed and have the ability to relate to the trainers but also to see what young people of their age can do, to help stimulate and motivate them. The first aid training delivered on the course involves a range of emergency aid from CPR to dealing with stabbing and gunshot wounds, this element of the course allows for interactive learning by the young people whilst discussions surrounding their own experiences can be heard in a safe environment.

“Stick it” is unique in its structure and delivery, we aim not only to deliver new skills to young people but also to help them through discussions on knife and gun crime, sharing experiences and providing new opportunities to get involved with the organisation. To date the “Stick it” programme has trained over 2500 young people, this is 2500 young people in East London which are now more likely to save a life than take a life and this is the culture amongst all young people we want to create.

If you would like to take advantage of the programmes offered (see here) and are able to provide access to between 15 to 30 young people please contact or telephone 020 7780 9859.

Saturday, 17 August 2013

Must Watch - JAJA SOZE where do we go from here?

Here is the must watch documentary, where do we go from here, directed and produced by JaJa Soze (@JaJapdc on twitter)

Thursday, 15 August 2013 (Camden & Peckham)

One in three young people who offend have an unmet mental health need at the time of their offence. MAC-UK believes there is a serious and often-unrecognised problem of unmet mental health needs which are specific to young people involved in antisocial and /or gang related activity.

Founded in 2008, (national registered charity no. 11261440), MAC-UK’s Vision is to radically transform the delivery of mental health services for young people who offend or are at risk of offending. We work to achieve this Vision by making it our Mission to take mental health services out of the clinic and onto the streets to work with excluded young people where they are, when they need it.

MAC-UK has developed an innovative, evidence-based model called Integrate©, that is proving extremely effective in reaching out to deprived young people aged 16-25 years who are involved in highly anti-social and/or gang related activity. It is a radical approach taking what we know works in mental health and applying it in new ways. Integrate has received widespread acclaim and is now being tested at three pilot sites with new groups of young people over the next three years. Integrate offers a pioneering, long-term solution to the complex problem of poverty and youth offending.

MAC-UK also aim to address many of the social health inequalities that cause young people to have issues in the first place by removing much of the stigma and logistical obstacles around seeking help. We can achieve both by putting young people at the heart of its services and solutions. We also seek to positively influence social justice and mental health policy for excluded young people and for mental health to be placed at the heart of all interventions for this marginalised group.

Two projects specifically working with gangs are ran by MAC in Camden and Peckham.

See more at

Monday, 8 July 2013

Home Secretary Theresa May praises borough's gang action programme

Waltham Forest Guardian

9:21am Monday 8th July 2013 By Zachary Norman

A gang initiative in the borough has been roundly praised following a high-powered visit last week.

The Home Secretary Theresa May, MPs Iain Duncan-Smith and Stella Creasy, with Council Leader Chris Robbins, met last Thursday at Leytonstone's Construction Skills Centre in Cathall Road, where ex-gang members have been learning trades.

Sitting down with councillors, officers, police representatives, programme providers, former gang members and people whose lives has been affected by gang violence the visit was to demonstrate what the borough is doing to help vulnerable people back into education, training and work.

After the visit the Home Secretary said: “Gang violence has a devastating impact on communities. We need to change the lives of young people before they get sucked into a life of violence and crime.

"This project in Waltham Forest is an excellent example of the work being done at a local level to provide vulnerable youngsters with a way out of trouble.”

The centre provides people with practical skills needed to work in the construction industry, including steel fixing, paving, flooring and roofing.

Iain Duncan Smith, who has a history of working with the borough’s gangs and is the patron of Gangs Unite, said: “We had a really productive meeting with the Home Secretary – it was great for her to meet some of the people on the ground such as Colin James from Gangs Unite.

“She was very interested in the work Colin has been doing – he has been instrumental in helping to pull young boys in Waltham Forest out of gangs and showing them an alternative way of life.”

The Secretary of State for Work and Pensions added that early intervention and enforcement gives young boys growing up on estates with no male role models a way of doing something productive with their lives.

Gangs Unite is a community interest company based in South Grove, Walthamstow, which mentors around 70 young people through sport and performing arts.

Councillor Robbins said: “This visit by the Home Secretary helps shine a light on the work we’re doing to tackle the issue of gangs.”

He said in the past year gang violence in Waltham Forest amongst 10 to 19 year olds had almost halved.

The council also runs a program call Enough is Enough which attempts to address gang issues by working with whole families.

Saturday, 6 July 2013

Anti gang talent showcaseLast updated Sat 6 Jul 2013

ITV (see article and video here)

Gang warfare in the capital is being targeted by one charity trying to turn inter-neighbourhood rivalry on it's head.

XLP helps mentor young people and tonight is the biggest event in its calendar - its annual talent showcase.

The event highlights the skills of talented young Londoners - and aims to help steer them away from gangs and gang culture.

Piers Hopkirk explains:

Thursday, 4 July 2013

Rap City - Prisoner to the Streets video

Murder: what happens when the cameras move on?

By Guest

Vicky Torrance worked with Community Links on our Street Life: the Conversation project during the winter. In this guest post she explains why she, and the charity she works with, got involved. 

It’s the six o’clock news, a young person has been fatally stabbed. The pictures of their distraught family briefly flicker across our screen. “How awful” we think, as a shudder passes down our spine at the thought of something like that happening to someone we love. The story moves on. Do we ever stop and think what happens to that family when the news cameras move on?

The loss of a family member through homicide has profound, devastating and far reaching effects on the whole family unit. Studies have shown that bereavement by homicide is often followed by loss of employment, the breakdown of relationships and mental health problems. Families bereaved through homicide often describe the enormous sense of isolation they feel as they struggle to come to terms with the emotional and psychological impact of their loss. That is why the work of charity’s like Through Unity is so important. Through Unity provides support for the whole family unit in various ways; from befriending to opportunities to get together with other families bereaved through homicide at our family days. Through Unity will be there for families in the early stages of bereavement and through the years to come as the family struggles with the “ripple affect” of the homicide on their families.

On the face of it then, it may not seem obvious why Through Unity would get involved with Community Link’s project Street Life: The Conversation. The project sought to engage with young people to identify solutions to the issues of gangs and weapons carrying. The project involved workshops in each of Community Links’ community hubs, and street-based youth work. Young people from the hubs were invited to make their own response to the issues, which they did with huge commitment, energy and enthusiasm. Anti-knife crime t-shirts were made, songs and raps written, posters designed and dramas devised. The project culminated in a big community event attended by over 300 young people, members of the community, politicians and local decision makers. The event showcased the work of the young people and facilitated a conversation about what could be done to make our communities safer.

So why did members of Through Unity get involved? Families bereaved through homicide know more than anyone the devastation that is wreaked on families and communities as the result of violence. This is often described as the “ripple affect”. The victim, the offender, their families, their friends and the whole community all get caught up in the destructive repercussions of an act of violence. Bereaved families have a unique and personal story to tell. For many families it is important that that they “tell their story”, not only as part of their “grief journey” but also to raise awareness of the devastating after affects of violence that is often so trivialised in the media. Prevention is their watch word. If one life is saved and one family prevented from “walking their road” it will have been worth it. For some the drive to raise awareness of the dangers of carrying guns and knives has led them to set up their own charities and work tirelessly with young people.

How did families in the Through Unity Coalition contribute to Street Life? Professional photographer Sal Idriss (who has twenty images in the permanent collection of the National Portrait Gallery), did a four week photography workshop with young women exploring the issue of gangs and weapons carrying. Sal lost his brother Nass (Nassirudeen) in 2007, Nass died as the result of an unprovoked knife attack in Islington.

Bafta Award winning film maker Mark One showed his film, “After Affects” and did workshops in the community hubs. The film explores the way the news of a murder destroys the lives of family and friends and how the after affects ripple through the whole community with far reaching consequences for everyone. Mark made this film as a result of losing the 19 year old boyfriend of his eldest niece to knife crime in 2006.

Ray and Vi Donovan from the Chris Donovan Trust attended the showcase event and Ray told the story of how his son Chris was killed by a gang of youths as he walked with his brother to a friend’s house.

This is what they said about the project:

Ray Donovan – “As victims of crime, we found it encouraging and mindblowing to see so many young people wanting to do something to win back the streets of their community. They have our utmost respect.”

Sal Idriss – “It was inspiring to see so many coming together for one common aim

Mark One – “The ‘Street Life the Conversation’ event was a great morale lifter for our young adults. To see their work come to life in front of a captive audience is a life lesson that hard work pays off. It was an honour to be a part of the event. We need more events like this in our communities for young adults to use their time to develop themselves, learning how to start, finish and present themselves to a high level.”

So what have we learnt from the experience? We have learnt that we need to work together to reduce violence on our streets. The whole community both young and old, have a part to play and it is vital that we hear the voices of those who have lost loved ones to violence.

For more information about the work of Through Unity go to: or find us on Facebook:

Friday, 28 June 2013

Council could turn to YouTube to break up Croydon gangs

Croydon Guardian

2:20pm Friday 28th June 2013 in By Chris Baynes, Reporter

The council could request gang videos to be removed

YouTube could be the next battlefield in the war on gang crime in the borough, the Croydon Guardian can reveal.

The council is considering deploying staff to trawl the video-sharing website in search of gang-related footage.

YouTube could then be requested to remove videos deemed likely to encourage gang crime or lead to recruitment of new members.

Croydon Council is contemplating the strategy after it was trialled at another London borough.

Newham Council has forced the removal of 76 videos from YouTube since it began the scheme in January.

Enforcement offices working for the East London authority, which has operates in one of the country's most deprived boroughs, have found more than 500 gang-related videos.

Croydon Council confirmed it was looking at employing a similar scheme.

A council spokesman said: "Croydon Gangs Unit regularly monitors social networking sites and the content is used to inform enforcement action where possible.

“We recently became aware of the work undertaken by Newham and are now considering whether this approach may be useful or achievable in our borough to help disrupt gang activity.”

Croydon has some of the highest levels of gang-related crime in London.

There were 105 gun crimes in the borough in the last 12 months, the fourth highest in the capital.

It has the fifth highest robbery rate, at 2,016 in the last year.

A YouTube spokesman said: "YouTube's community guidelines prohibit content that's intended to incite violence or encourage dangerous, illegal activities, and we encourage all our users to flag videos for our attention.

"We review videos against our guidelines when notified and remove anything that breaks the rules."

Tuesday, 18 June 2013

Borough's United - On Tour


 "The Crib is already doing excellent work with young people in Hackney to prevent gun, knife and hate crimes. Setting up this exciting new project means it can unleash the creative potential of youngsters in every borough across the city, helping them to raise their aspirations and to increase their confidence as performers."  The Mayor of London, Boris Johnson

Boroughs United is a youth led campaign for peace. It is produced and managed by the independent youth charity, The Crib, who conceived and developed the programme to promote an inclusive platform for all communities to share, express and enjoy the inspiring and exceptional talents and achievements young people contribute to our society every day.

Boroughs United is a three-phased, pan-London, urban arts showcase, produced by The Crib, in collaboration with the producers of the legendary talent shows Hackney Empire’s 291 Club, C4’s Nights out at the Empire and The New Acts of the Year

  • On Tour! – 33 London borough Summer season
  • Urban Quest – North, South, East, West – London regional Autumn heats
  • Showcase & Awards – Hackney Empire – Winter Grand Finals

Boroughs United - On Tour! is a professionally produced music-based urban variety show, presenting original work performed by: singer/ songwriters, MCs, poets, speciality acts and dance groups, aged between 15 and 24 years.

On Tour! premieres this year.  It will be performed to audiences of at least 15,000 people, including preview performances at City Hall in June, Hyde Park Live and Open East at the Olympic Park in July and going on to play afternoon matinees, throughout August, in art centres, studio theatres and festivals, performing once in each of London’s 33 boroughs.


Friday 21 June:           Celebrate at London’s Living Room, City Hall
Sunday 7 July:            Hyde Park Live Family Day
Thursday 11 July:       Hyde Park Live, On Tour! Youth Network Preview
Saturday 27 &
Sunday 28 July:          Open East, Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park
29 July to
31 August:                   33 London Borough Tour (Mondays to Saturdays)  

Urban Quest plays four regional heats in middle-scale theatres, in north, south, east and west London, between September and December. The Quest showcases emerging acts to a talent selection panel comprising of inspirational peers, leading artists and top industry professionals who are tasked with the responsibility to select the final line-up that will perform at the annual Boroughs United Showcase & Awards.


½ Term:                      Four venues TBC

Showcase & Awards:

Sunday 26 January or Sunday 9 February 2014, Hackney Empire Theatre

 “The success, at the Boroughs United event, of local singer “Little Red” and the potential benefits of such success offer the potential for this person to become a role model for other similarly gifted young people from the area.” PC Philip Poole (2002)

Boroughs United has been running annually since 2000.  It has received grant funding from the Youth Opportunity Fund, Arts Council of England Grants for the Arts, Lottery Awards for All and the Metropolitan Police.  It strives to be an inclusive and grass-roots, peer-led programme that is delivered by young people, aged up to 24 years, with support from youth workers and creative facilitators.

Each year, it brings together a pan-London network of approximately 200 young volunteers who participate in creative and administrative skills development programmes including: fashion, singing, dance, MC-ing, performance poetry, music and film production and event management to deliver a first class production at the Hackney Empire Theatre.

It is a creative industry that each year provides a diverse mix of at least 350 young Londoners with accredited training, volunteering, work experience, apprenticeship and employment opportunities and engages them in a range of employment experiences, such as: artistic performance, business administration, event management, marketing, public relations and digital media. It is delivered in partnership with a pan London network of programmes services, including: independent peer led youth programmes, voluntary youth and community projects, local authority and public sector youth services, private sector CSR led youth and community programmes

Boroughs United has consistently played to capacity audiences at venues including: Hackney’s Ocean Music Venue, the Hackney Empire and Indigo2. To date, over 2,500 young Londoners, including Leona Lewis, Diversity and Twist & Pulse, have performed in the show and managed the backstage production. Audiences of over 10,000 have watched the shows.

Direct annual engagement

350 young artists and practitioners directly engaged through participation in performances, training and volunteer programmes

165 youth engagement initiatives and organisations across the 33 boroughs

20,000 live audiences attending On Tour!, Quest and Showcase & Awards

The Crib

Formed in 1999, The Show Crib (The Crib) was created as a charity to address a recognised deficiency of youth provision in the Shoreditch area of Hackney. By January 2001, it was established as a detached youth project, offering a non-threatening environment for local young people from culturally diverse backgrounds. By 2002, the Crib’s youth membership grew to 430. It currently has over 600 young people aged 9–25 on its books, and sees them in a rotating pool of around 150 each week at different sessions and activities. Although these attendees are primarily from Hackney, many come from further afield, drawn by word of mouth and the reputation of the project.

The Crib has established working relations with the Youth Justice Board, the Youth Offending Team, the Drug Action Team and the Metropolitan Police. Working with the Hackney Crime Disorder partners the Crib engages in programmes to reduce re-offending and to tackle persistent offenders.

Staff work with borough based agencies to engage in early intervention initiatives. These interventions are based upon the themes of health, education, family welfare, drug awareness, bullying, professional advice and counselling. These initiatives are delivered by a combination of outreach workers and project-based workers.

The Crib provides a range of development opportunities and project-based activities, designed to promote social inclusion and enhance the social and personal education of the young people participating.

The Crib co-ordinates an active youth forum whose members, conceive and participate in a range of arts based development programmes, including: drama, dance, singing, DJing, MCing, spoken word and video workshops, and the forum produces the "One Voice" youth magazine. Other participatory activities conceived by the forum include the ground breaking “Trading Places” role reversal programme run in partnership with the Metropolitan Police.

The Crib enables, encourages and promotes the participation of socially excluded young people, between 9-25, who for varying reasons are unable or unwilling to access existing services and opportunities. The project provides a non-threatening environment to those young people, from diverse cultural backgrounds, which have real difficulties maintaining continuity in mainstream education and employment.

The Crib works with:

• Young single parents
• Those who do not regularly attend school or have been excluded
• Those at risk of offending or have offended
• Young persons who are in danger of, or have been placed on ABC orders (anti-social, behaviour contracts)
• Those who are directly or indirectly affected by drug and alcohol abuse
• Black, ethnic minority, Gay and Lesbians and asylum seekers.
• Young people who are looking for help and advice to further their social and educational achievements.

The Crib provides a supportive environment that gives young people a voice and a stake in their community and enables them to increase their self-esteem and raise achievement so that they can realise their full potential as young members of the community.

The Crib manages a number of innovative and participatory activities, aimed at the social, educational and personal development of its users.

Activities are suggested by the young people accessing the project and developed by them. Activities are also often managed with young people in a lead role, working alongside project staff, volunteers and peer mentors in project delivery.