‘Ask Me’ ambassadors and other partners linked to the borough’s gang prevention programme can support young people (and their families) to make good decisions.

Many young people feel under pressure to follow friends who are in a gang. Or they can inadvertently find that they owe a local gang member a favour or debt, which brings them into contact with a local gang in seeking to repay it. Younger children are finding they are becoming involved far earlier in their lives than was the case a few years back, when the typical age of gang members was 18-25.

Education is the key. Often, just recognising the signs and seeking help, can be a hugely positive step towards changing the course of a young persons life.

Before you talk to your child about gangs, it helps if you understand a little more about how gangs work and why young people are drawn towards gangs in the first place. The reality of being in a gang is very different from the pictures that can be painted of the lifestyle and benefits. There are often warning signs to look out for which could suggest that a young person is actively involved with a gang; these can be as subtle as changes of appearance (especially wearing clothes which are out of character) , using new slang words, hanging out with new friends (who are reluctant to engage with the wider family) and falling out with trusted long-term friends.

There are many things you can do to help prevent a young person getting involved with a gang. The most important thing is to talk to and be open with them and be as involved in their life as possible. A lot of gang activity is co-ordinated behind the scenes using social media or mobile phone, so it’s important that you are aware of this and have your own social dialogue too.

We have used our experience and the knowledge of some of the leaders in this area, as well as those who have lived experience of gang life, to put together answers to some of the frequently asked questions we hear which will hopefully give you more background knowledge and therefore, more confidence to discuss these issues with family members and friends.

Click here to visit our frequently asked questions. Alternatively, if you have a question that we haven’t covered on this site, please submit the form below or email us at We will do our best to answer it for you.