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Research suggests only a fraction of children at risk from gang activity are known to authorities.

The Children’s Commissioner for England, Anne Longfield, has released a report calling for child gang activity to be made a national safeguarding priority.

The research estimates that here are 27,000 children in England who identify as a gang member, though only a small percentage of these are known to children’s services.

Responses to the research came from 25 LCSB’s in high risk areas and often the areas with the highest levels of gang violence had the least information on them.

Longfield said "The criminal gangs operating in England are complex and ruthless organisations, using sophisticated techniques to groom children, and chilling levels of violence to keep them compliant.

Children’s “experiences vary widely. For some, being in a gang entails little more than putting a hashtag on social media. For others it can be far more serious and dangerous. Many of the children who identify as gang members feel they have no choice or no better options. Some are groomed and exploited by gangs but never identify as members. Often it is these children, described to me once as ‘collateral’, who are the most vulnerable and at risk”.

She continued “The Government needs to face-up to the scale of this challenge and ensure both the priority and resources are given to helping these children.

 Read the full report here