LONDRES ET LA GUERRE DES GANGS

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Un an après les émeutes qui ont embrasé la capitale britannique, la violence ne s’est pas tue dans certains districts. La guerre des gangs fait rage, terrassant une jeunesse sans espoir. Comment expliquer une telle violence ? Quelles actions le gouvernement a-t-il mis en place pour y remédier ?

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 In London, the gang wars are raging, devastating a youth without hope. The police count 171 gangs whereas the Home Secretary counts twice as many. At this macabre game, every week a teenager or a child dies, victim of a “settling of scores”. Gang members are young people without a job, on the fringes of society and who have sunk into violence because they had no other choice. Drug is everywhere but the gangs fight above all to protect their territory. Their motto is: “ACT OR SUFFER”. Most of the time, the gangs choose the name of a street or a park to name themselves. Next to the Olympic Stadium, there’s for instance the”Holly Street Boys” or the “Peckham Boys”. The violence of the conflicts of this “zip code war” (a phrase coined by the press) has hogged the limelight since last summer’s riots.

What has the government done to put an end to that spiralling gang violence?

The government lacks the money to deal with the problem; as a result, the police are not often efficient. Thus, many associations have been created to solve these conflicts. The most effective is the Capital Conflict Management (CCM) which uses mediation between gangs to avoid future murders. Its functioning is very simple: a mediator directly talks to the gang and tries to convince its members not to act violently. Most mediators are often former gang members, so youths respect them and listen to them more easily than to the police. Thus, when the police cannot act for lack of evidence, it presents the case to the association. More than 300 cases have already been tackled by the CCM.

All in all, the gangs are a dramatic social issue. Indeed, the youths who belong to these gangs are hopeless and do not receive any government assistance. Inevitably, they drift into violence as the London’s Riot demonstrated. This is what Robyn Travis, former member of the Holly Street Boys, tells us in his book Prisoner to the Streets (coming out in September 2012). The government should help the more troubled youths to prevent them from belonging to gangs just because they feel they have any other choice.

Elora BARETTE & Justine GAZUIT

Picture : Roby Travis was for 10 years an active member of the Holly Street Boys in the district of Hackney. He has a “Redemption” tattoo on his neck.

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