Gang activity advice & support | LiveSafe (2024)

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Live Safe > Young People > Criminal exploitation and gangs

What is criminal exploitation?

It’s when you’re asked or forced to do criminal things for someone else.

At first you may feel part of a group, or even a family, but over time you’ll be told that there’s no other option, that you owe someone, owe money or should do things out of loyalty.

Criminal exploitation can involve you moving drugs, sometimes hidden in your body, around your local area or even travelling across the country (this is known as County Lines). You could also be made to sell drugs, transport weapons or carry out other criminal activities, like assaulting people and stealing.

  • What is a gang
  • What are the signs of being criminally exploited
  • I need help and support

Important things to know

  • Victims of criminal exploitation are groomed, sometimes by being given money, attention, gifts and promises of a better life.
  • Victims may feel part of a group or a family so more are willing to help do dangerous things.
  • Victims often don’t feel that they’re at risk and it’s not until it is too late that they realise just how bad things are for them.
  • Victims might find themselves doing things they know are wrong, dangerous or uncomfortable, like lots of travelling or hiding drugs inside their body.

What is a gang

What is a gang?

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The word ‘gang’ can have many lots of different meanings. It could mean a group of friends, but it could also mean a group of people who take part in criminal activity, and they might try to get you involved with them.

Being in a gang isn’t against the law. But being involved with illegal activities (that some gangs do) could be an offence, like carrying, using or selling drugs.

You might feel that you want to be part of a gang to:

  • Fit in with friends and other gang members.
  • Feel good, respected and important.
  • Be protected from bullying or from other gangs.
  • Make lots of money.
  • Make new friends.
  • Feel part of a family.

What does it mean for me?

  • Even if you haven’t committed a fatal crime yourself, you could be arrested for being associated with the gang that did. It’s called Joint Enterprise. Do you want to go to jail for something you didn’t directly do?
  • Being forced to commit crimes through child criminal exploitation will get you in trouble with the law, and a criminal record will stick with you for the rest of your life.
  • Being in a gang can mean being linked to crime like trafficking, drug dealing and violence.
  • No parent or grandparent would ever want their child to go to prison, get injured or killed. Your choices affect them too.
  • Your family and friends’ safety could be at risk. Think if something were to happen to them.
  • You may be forced to do things that you don’t want to, as well as being a risk to your physical wellbeing, this could affect your mental health.
  • Getting involved with a gang can have a long-term impact on your education and employment, which can seriously damage your future.
  • As well as the threat of blackmail and emotional abuse, you’re at high risk of physical harm, rape and sexual abuse.
  • Running in these types of circles can bring you closer to abusing drugs and alcohol, which can cause serious physical and mental harm.

What are the signs of being criminally exploited

What are the signs of being criminally exploited?

  • Having new things that you don’t understand how they got
  • Having lots of money all of a sudden
  • Using drugs and/or alcohol and often being hungover
  • Signs of unexplained physical harm, such as bruising
  • Carrying a weapon
  • Having new friends or partners (who might be a lot older) and ignoring old friends
  • Secrecy around their phone and potentially new phone
  • Being shady about what they are up to, or alternatively boating about a new gang, money or experience

I need help and support

I need help and support

Spend time with friends who aren’t in gangs

It sounds pretty simple but that’s because it is. Even if you’re not doing gang activity yourself, being around these types of people makes it more likely for you to slip into dangerous and illegal activity.

Talk to someone you trust

It doesn’t have to be your parents. But if you can, chat to them. Or a teacher, a youth worker, or trusted person you look up to in the community. It may make you feel nervous but trust us, they’ll be happy you reached out.

Find something positive to focus on

Sport, music, art – doing something you love, and that gives you a positive focus, can lead to some pretty great things. Like building new skills, making new friends, and paving the way for a career.

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Support Links

It is important to think about your future and how being involved in criminal activity or being in a gang can affect your life.

If you’re worried about a friend or want to get help for yourself, check out these places:

ChildLine lets you speak to a counsellor in confidence. They can help you find a way to get out.

The Runaway Helpline will help you if you are thinking about running away, if you have already run away, or if you have been away and come back.

Not In Our Community is full of resources to help you understand more about child criminal exploitation and child sexual exploitation.

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Need to report something?

If you or someone you know is in immediate danger please dial 999. Choosing to pass on information isn’t an easy decision to make. But it is the right one. However big or small, get it off your shoulders with 100% anonymity.

Let’s make our home a safer place to live and thrive.

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Gang activity advice & support | LiveSafe (2024)
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