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James Kenyon - Youth Gangs in 2008 ECoC

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					Youth Gangs and the value of sport in the
   2008 European Capital of Culture




                            James Kenyon
                             J.A.Kenyon@lboro.ac.uk
                (Liverpool Hope University | Loughborough University)
 UNeECC-Compostela Conference, University of Pécs, 14th – 15th Oct. 2010
Introduction
Gangs are not a newly conceived phenomenon

Gangs have attracted a considerable (media and
political) attention in the UK in recent years.

Can be explained by increases in anti-social
behaviour and knife and gun crime among
elements of UK youth culture
                                  (Marshall et al., 2005)

Overlooked by academics until recently
Introduction
Therefore…

The aim of this research was to
examine the extent to which
community sports programmes
serve as an effective tool in
preventing youth engagement in
gang culture
Definitional Issues
Gangs are difficult to define


General consensus is:

A durable group of young people, with a group
identity, which are structured or organised (to
a certain degree) and, at some level, are
involved in criminal, delinquent or anti-social
behaviours
     (Aldridge and Medina-Ariza, 2007; Hallsworth and Young, 2004)
Background
Since the beginning of Liverpool’s economic
implosion in the 1960s/70s, the city has
developed a (media-induced) reputation for:

• anti-social behaviour
• drugs
• hooliganism
• crime
• and more recently… youth-gang culture

                (see for example, Boland, 2008; Doward, 2007)
Background
Liverpool was ‘first mainland city [in the UK] to
have openly armed police officers patrolling the
streets’
                                        (Boland, 2008: pg. 361)


Between 1994 - 1997, Merseyside was responsible
for approximately 80% of the UK’s imported heroin
                      (Anderson cited in Campbell, 1998: pg. 4)


Between 2006 - 2007, in the 1st year of SOCA,
Liverpool was revealed as being the UK's centre for
organised crime outside London
                                               (Merrick, 2007)
Background
2007 – 11 year old Rhys Jones killed in cross-fire of
gang-related shooting

                       Youth gang feud in
                       Croxteth / Norris Green

                       Significant coverage in
                       national and international
                       media

                       - Young Gunmen (2008)
                       - Ross Kemp on Gangs (2009)
Reasons for Engagement (US)

•   Excitement
•   Identity
•   Protection
•   Conformity
•   Fiscal reasons
•   A family tradition


                         (National Crime Prevention Council, 2006)
Risk Factors for Engagement (UK)

•   Lack of Education
•   Training and Employability
•   Criminal Lifestyles
•   Thinking and Behaviour Problems




                                      (Dawson, 2008)
Geographical Areas of Academic Interest

                                             1. Edinburgh
                                    (e.g. Smith et al., 2001)

                                           2. Manchester
(e.g. Bennett and Holloway, 2004 ; Bullock and Tilley, 2002;
                                              Mares, 2001)

                                              3. Liverpool
         (e.g. Bennett and Holloway, 2004; Dawson, 2008)

                                          4. Birmingham
         (e.g. Bennett and Holloway, 2004; Dawson, 2008)

                                                5. London
         (e.g. Bennett and Holloway, 2004 ; Dawson, 2008;
                                              Pitts, 2007)
Key Research
Contrary to popular belief (i.e. the media), gangs have a loose
structure and lacked formal leadership          (Mares, 2001)

Which supports more current research that maintains the structure of
youth gangs is ‘fluid, loose [and] messy’
                                        (Aldridge and Medina-Ariza, 2007: 17)

Most gang members are - to some degree - involved in violence, crime
and/or drugs (either consuming or selling)
                      (Aldridge and Medina-Ariza, 2007; Bullock and Tilley, 2002;
                      Mares, 2001, Pitts, 2007; Smith, 2001).

In most major cities in the UK with a significant gang problem,
members are more likely to be young black males of African or
Caribbean descent                        (Dawson, 2008; Mares, 2001)

…except in Liverpool where almost all are white                (Dawson, 2008)
Why Sport??? Why Liverpool???
Community sport is considered to be a practical means of addressing
society’s problems

Anti-social behaviour is listed as the top priority in Liverpool’s Crime,
Disorder, Anti-Social Behaviour & Drug Misuse Strategy 2005 – 2008
(Citysafe, 2005)

Anti-social behaviour is more likely to be prevalent in underprivileged
neighbourhoods (Utting, 1997) & Liverpool is the most deprived local
authority in the UK (SRCD, 2008).

Liverpool is famous throughout the world for its sporting icons and
institutions (Boland, 2008; Kenyon & Rookwood, 2010; Rookwood, 2010)

Almost two-thirds of population participate regularly (Sport England,
2006)
Methodology
Qualitative approach

Online and offline ethnographic techniques

Participant observation (PO), interviews (IV),
focus groups (FG), content analysis

Rich material, reliable evidence

PO: details
Perceptions of Problem
Divergence in opinion concerning the extent of
the problem.
• expert-interviewees  big problem
• younger respondents  not that big a problem

Has the youth population in these deprived
communities become desensitised to elements of
criminality and anti-social behaviour to such a degree
that they no longer consider certain behaviours to be
anti-social or criminal, but more so, to be part of daily
routine?
Engagement & ‘Membership’
Daytime Activities
• Playing football
• Smoking marijuana (but not dealing)

Night-time Activities
• Drinking (usually only on a weekend)
• Meeting up with girls

However…
The above is not too dissimilar from youth
behaviour throughout the UK
Engagement & ‘Membership’
No initiation ceremony
     ‘Membership’ came from ‘hanging around’
     with friends who were already involved.

There was usually no ‘leader’
     Where there was, it was usually the young
     person considered to be the hardest (best
     fighter)
Engagement & Community Sport
Findings are consistent with previous research
conducted on anti-social behaviour
                                              (Morris et al., 2003)

Achieving reductions in engagement comes
from decreasing the amount of unsupervised
leisure time:

‘… it’s mainly down to boredom. The kids I’ve coached usually
say that there’s nothing for them to do. And if they’ve got an
interest in football and join our team, they train so many nights
a week, they haven’t got as much time to be hanging around
being bored’ (FG Resp.).
Engagement & Community Sport
The physical demands of sport are SOMEWHAT
attributable in preventing engagement in gang
culture and ASB

‘when they get back from training, they’re tired and
they just want to relax’ (FG Resp.)

‘…it just takes it out of you when you play footy […]
and then goin’ out and causin’ trouble and all that… be
arsed?’ (FG Resp).
Engagement & Community Sport
Community sport can deter:
• binge drinking
• drug-taking sessions
in the evenings preceding weekend participation.

‘Go ‘ed lad… I didn’t go out last night or anythin’. I’ve stopped all
that the night before a game since I started playing for youse.
Nice and fresh kid.’

Scouse-to-English Translation:
Hello my friend… I decided not to go out drinking last night. I
have stopped going out the night before we play since I signed
for the football team. I like to feel nice and fresh for the game my
friend.
Long Term Benefits
Findings are consistent with Nichols (1997) and
Utting (1997) research into deviance and sport.

Lasting benefits are achieved through:
• Improvements in cognitive and social skills

• Reductions in impulsive and risk-taking behaviours

• Increases in self esteem and confidence

• Improvements in education and employment
prospects
Conclusion
It would be naïve to suppose that participation
in community sport can eradicate all traces of
engagement in ASB & Gang Culture

But it can certainly reduce engagement!

Community sport should (and must) be
integrated into a wider holistic programme of
community development.
References
• Aldridge, J. and Medina-Ariza, J. (2007). Youth Gangs in an English City: Social Exclusion, Drugs and Violence: Full Research Report
ESRC End of Award Report, RES-000-23-0615. Swindon: ESRC

• Bennett, T & Holloway, K. (2004). Gang membership, drugs and crime in the UK. British Journal of Criminology, 44: pp. 305 - 323.

• Boland, P. (2008). The construction of images of people and place: Labelling Liverpool and stereotyping Scousers. Cities, 25: pp.
355 - 369.

• Bullock, K. & Tilley, N (2002). Shootings, gangs and violent incidents in Manchester: Developing a crime reduction strategy. Crime
reduction research series, Paper 13. London: Home Office.

• Campbell, A. (1998). Mersey Kings of Evil Trade. Liverpool Echo, published 1st April, 1998

• Citysafe (2005). Crime, Disorder, Anti-Social Behaviour & Drug Misuse Strategy 2005 – 2008. Retrieved 24th October, 2009 from
http://www.liverpool.gov.uk/Images/tcm21-41982.pdf

• Dawson, P. (2008). Monitoring Data from the Tackling Gangs Action Programme. Home Office: London.

• Doward, J (2007). Raised amid guns and gangs. The Guardian. Retrieved 12th of January, 2009 from
http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk/2007/aug/26/ukcrime.ukguns

• Hallsworth, S. and Young, T. (2008). Gang talk and gang talkers: A critique. Crime, Media and Culture, vol. 4, 175-195

• Kenyon, J. and Rookwood, J. (2010). ‘The world in one postcode?’ Examining the place of sport and perceptions of Liverpool’s
European Capital of Culture experience. Poster presented at the International Journal of Arts & Sciences Mediterranean Conference
for Academic Disciplines, February 15th – 18th, University of Gozo: Malta.

• Mares, D. (2001). Gangstas or Lager Louts? Working class street gangs in Machester’. In, M. W. Klein, H. J. Kerner, C. L. Maxson,
and E. G. M. Weitekamp (Eds.) The Eurogang Paradox: Street Gangs and Youth Groups in the US and Europe. London: Kluwer
Academic Publishers.
References
• Marshall, B, Webb, B. and Tilley, N. (2005). Rationalisation of current research on guns, gangs and other weapons: Phase 1. University
College London Jill Dando Institute of Crime Science: London.

• Merrick, R. (2007). Liverpool revealed as centre for organised crime in North. icLiverpool. Retrieved 12th of January, 2009 from
http://icliverpool.icnetwork.co.uk/0100news/tm_headline=liverpool-revealed-as-centre-for-organised-crime-in-
north%26method=full%26objectid=20127351%26siteid=50061-name_page.html

• National Crime Prevention Council (2006). Identifying and Addressing a Gang Problem. Arlington: National Crime Prevention
Council.

• Nichols, G. (1997). A consideration of why active participation in sport and leisure might reduce criminal behaviour. Sport,
Education and Society, 2(2): pp. 181-190.

• Pitts, J. (2007). Violent youth gangs in the UK. Safer Society: The Journal of Crime Reduction and Community Safety, 32: pp. 14 – 17.

• Rookwood, J. (2010). ‘We’re not English we are Scouse!’ Examining the identities of Liverpool Football Club supporters. In, Sport
and Social Identity: Studies from the Field. (Eds. J. Hughson, F. Skillen and C. Palmer). Lewiston: Edwin Mellen Press. [In Press]

• Smith, D., J., McVie, S., Woodward, R., Shute, J., Flint, J. and McAra, L. (2001) The Edinburgh Study of Youth Transitions and Crime.
Edinburgh Study of Youth Transitions and Crime Research Digest No. 1.

• Social Disadvantage Research Centre (2008) The English Indices of Deprivation 2007. Communities and Local Government: London.

• Sport England (2006) Understanding the Success Factors in Sport Action Zones. Final Report. London: Sport England.

• Utting, D. (1997) Reducing Criminality Among Young People: A Sample of Relevant Programmes in the United Kingdom. London:
Home Office Research and Statistics Directorate.

				
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