By Daniel Wood and Aimee Hender
Identifying the difference between organised crime and gang crime can be a confusing subject.
This is because though the two are often used interchangeably, they are distinctly different.
Organised crime can be described as local groupings of highly centralised businesses ran by criminals that involve illegal activity.
Gangs often also involve themselves with illegal activity, however, they are organised entirely different and their members do not typically carry the same profiles.
According to the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency, gangs arrive due to powerless environments needing strength and power. Furthermore, people are often socialised into gangs through friends or family that are already part of a gang.
This is similar to organised crime, however, criminal organisations usually work on a hierarchy structure, just like a business. The higher up in a criminal organisation someone is, the more money they usually earn.
Statistics and facts only tell part of the story, however.
There has been a systematic denial by public services to admit they have a “gang” problem for years.
Today they cannot deny what is in front of them.
It is becoming more evident that schools, local communities and local residents have to acknowledge they have a “gang” problem that is young people becoming involved with “organised” crime.
It seems like we are at the point of crisis management, a reach on something that local community intelligence have been talking about since the 1990s in our local communities. Until public services start to take the local community members/activists and their social and intellectual authority seriously, it is our opinion that this issue will only get worse.
Do we need a death before public services revolutionise the way they work with communities? How long do those communities have to suffer before they are listened to, trusted and invested in tackling this problem head-on from the grassroots up and not top-down?
If we are ever going to re-orientate the lives of young people, support families, school teachers, etc, then action must be taken in regards to the tolerance we give to gang members. The more these issues are ignored, the higher the chances are of this problem getting out of hand. A possible solution to this is to create more single-focus programmes to help prevent young people from falling into gang culture.
For example, in the DVD resource Understanding Gangs (2006), Derrick Patrick runs a programme in Boston, Massachusetts, called Examined Life. This helps young people examine their life with the goal of keeping them out of gang-related issues. This is something that we should see more of, as the benefits are seemingly so beneficial to young people, their families and their communities.