Number of Gangs
The first London Street Gangs list and estimate was in 2005/06, a figure of 201 gangs in London (See article here, no longer available online) – this figure omitted outer London post code areas.
Following this in 2007, a Met Police document was leaked which said they had identified 169 (See here), this was soon followed less than a year later with a revised estimate of 257 (See here, powered by Google document viewer).
In 2008 we began to include outer London post code area gangs which inflated the number to 250 across Greater London. On 2nd September 2011 (in Gang Statistics: The Truth about the number of gangs and gang members, see further down for article link), we stated clearly that of the 250 we had identified there were just 90 which were involved in rivalries that had resulted in murders.
It was following this post that we listed up to 70 ‘serious gangs’ also on 2nd September 2011, however, this was removed.
On the 30th September 2011, a month after we had published the article on the number of gangs, the Met Police gangs taskforce known as ‘Op Connect’ delivered a presentation on London gangs (See here). Within the presentation it states clearly that there are over 100 gangs in London with over 2,000 members. Also in September 2011, the Met Police responded to an FOI which stated that they were aware of 304 gangs (See here).
In February 2012, the Met Police launched their new gang offensive and clearly stated that they now knew of 250 active gangs. It was the first time they had ever been straight forward and confident with their figure. What’s more, they had clearly identified 62 ‘serious harm’ gangs.
We already published a figure for 250 for three years before the Met Police, our figures have been fairly consistent for several years, whereas during the last five months the Met have quoted figures of 100 and 304 leading up to ‘their’ 250 figure. We also identified up to 70 ‘serious gangs’ five months before the Met declared they had identified 62.
We will not re-print the names of those gangs, but we have mapped the distribution of the 250 active gangs by borough, and also the distribution of the 60-70 serious gangs. Points are plotted to give an indication of where these gangs are active.
Distribution of London’s 250 gangs
Distribution of London’s “high harm” gangs
Number of Gang Members: See article from 2nd September 2011, ‘Gang statistics: The truth about the number of gangs and gang members’.
What’s in a gang name? Of London’s 250 gangs 68% take their name from a local area, street or housing estate. This was significantly below that average for outer London gangs, just 42% of which derived their name from local areas, streets and housing estates.
Many gangs and cliques have names which make reference to money, such as ABM (All Bout Money), Doe Makers (E17), EC1 (Easy Cash), Get Money Gang (EN3), Get Money Gangsterz (SE25), Get Doe (W2), in Ilford there are MCE (Money Comes Easy) and MOD (Mainly On Doe), Maximum Profit (Acton), MDP (Money Drugs Pussy), MPR (Make Paper Regardless), Money Hungry (N4), P-Town (N13), in South Kilburn FAC (Family About Cash) and MMF (Money Motivated Fam), and in Wood Green MOB (Money Over Bitches) or PBP (Paper Before Pussy).
Just over half of London’s gang identify with colours, or use a colour in their gang name (i.e. Black Gang, Grey Gang and so on). The most commonly ‘flagged’ colour in London is red, used by 13% of gangs, this is followed by blue, used by 9% of gangs. The next most common are green (7%), black (6%) and grey (6%).
Some gang names are drawn from particular nations or ethnic groups in London, for example Hellbanianz, Real Albanian Gangsters and Albanian Troops (Albanian-Kosovan), or North London Somali’s, Camden Marlies and Deptford Marlies (Somali). In Croydon the Jaffna Boys take their name from a settlement in Sri Lanka, whilst in one small section of north-west London there are ‘Congolese Section’, ‘Kurdz Taking Over’ and ‘Bengali Green Manz’.
NB: All the information we have regarding ‘gang activity’ is drawn from court reports and articles regarding crime committed by gangs/gang members. This is unfairly subjective as in some cases a crime committed by an individual is being attributed to an entire collective. For example, the murder of a person by a gang member would count the suspects gang as being involved in homicide, even if no other members of the gang had any direct involvement.
One prolific offender, amongst a group, can potentially raise a gangs harm score and attract police attention and resources towards potentially ‘harmless’ young men, and subsequently possibly contributing to their development into habitual offenders.
Percentage of currently active gangs that have been involved in:
- Reported Homicide: 32% LSG Site 2012 (no Met Police comparison available). Surprisingly, this is slightly higher in Outer London (36%) compared to Inner London (32%).
- Reported Firearms Use: 51% LSG Site 2012 (Met Police estimated 45% in 2007), firearm use was slightly higher in Inner London boroughs when compared to Outer London boroughs (51% of gangs compared to 50%).
- Reported Violence: 71% LSG Site 2012 (Met Police estimated 88% in 2011). This was surprisingly slightly higher in Outer London boroughs in comparison to Inner London boroughs (72% of gangs compared to 70%).
- Reported Involvement in Drug Sales: 75% LSG Site 2012 (Met Police estimated 80% in 2011). This was higher for Inner London borough gangs when compared with Outer London borough gangs (76% of gangs compared to 73%).
Almost a quarter of gangs (or members of those gangs), have reportedly been involved in several serious criminal activity types including firearms, serious violence, robbery, drug supply and murder. A further 26% are reportedly involved in at least three or more of those activities but not all of them. For the remaining 50% of gangs, it is less than three of those listed activities or simply not known for certain.
Of the 250 active gangs in London approximately half (51%) use internet technology to perpetuate the image of the gang and affirm its existence (i.e. YouTube videos, MySpace and Facebook profiles and other websites).
Although we could find evidence that 71% of gangs had been involved in violent incidents only 56% are known to be in frequent active conflicts.