The National Youth Agency (NYA) has released a new report showing how gangs are changing their approach, operating in new locations and grooming new recruits.
Whilst headline statistics have shown a fall in gang activity and exploitation as the Covid 19 crisis has created a more difficult environment in which gangs can operate, the NYA’s new Hidden in Plain Sight study shows how their tactics are changing through:
Using lockdown as cover for a ‘recruitment drive’ from among young people with vulnerabilities heightened through lockdown, including through the use of social media and cyber grooming. Gangs are particularly targeting individuals who would not normally get involved in gang activity and who can move around more easily without arousing suspicion - the ‘glamour’ of gang culture still appeals directly to some young people particularly when there is little else to do.
Actively grooming vulnerable young people outdoors in unsafe environments who have nowhere else to go.
Stoking up gang activity and violence through social media, with fears of a surge in gang violence post-lockdown.
NYA Chief Executive, Leigh Middleton said “More young people are in potentially unsafe environments with little or no contact and limited access to support services during lockdown.”
See the full report here