The report into the gang activity in a North East London borough sheds light on the dark business of drug dealing, social media and sexual exploitation on Britain's streets.
"The gangs at the moment are much more about making money and they will use violence to get what they want," From Postcodes to Profit, How gangs have changed in Waltham Forest report states.
#London gangs becoming more organised, ruthless & focused on making drug profits.— Intelligence Fusion (@IntellFusion) June 6, 2018
— Focusing on dealing in Class A drugs
— Avoiding social media & technology
— 250 gangs operating involving around 4,500 people
— Females being used to transport drugs #WalthamForest Council Report pic.twitter.com/BvnFEHN9kb
"It's all about the drug dealing now. It's about getting young people out in the streets, selling your drugs for you, not really caring too much about any outcome they may have," a report contributor who works in the statutory sector reveals.
Gangs have shifted their focus from defending their so-called 'ends' defined by postcodes, to viewing their territory as a marketplace where hard cash can be made by selling crack, cocaine and cannabis. This territory must be protected at all costs.
"It's not really about postcodes any more. It's about money", according to the report which has unearthed major changes in the way gangs operate with women and girls becoming more involved in criminal behavior and sexually exploited.
"There's a lot of exploitation. A lot of guys obviously use the females to carry weapons and drugs: they think they're not going to get stopped as likely as what they are" a former gang member said.
Girls are attractive to gangs because male police officers can't carry out body searches on them but their invisibility comes at a cost. The report reveals the extent young girls are exposed to violence and sexual exploitation, especially in relation to county lines activities where their exploitation amounts to modern slavery.
ICYMI: A glimpse into a brutal & sordid business going on right under our noses > First conviction under Modern Slavery Act — London gang trafficked teen to #Swansea and held her prisoner in a flat as part of heroin & crack dealing “county lines” operation https://t.co/ZCjgVm3Xcu— Jason Evans (@EvansTheCrime) April 13, 2018
Good to see at last the Police are using the Modern Slavery Act 2015 to tackle County Lines. Well done @metpoliceuk @swpolice Looking forward to hearing more success stories. Thank you @UKAntiSlavery for cascading this first use of the legislation!— Stephen Chapman: Anti-Slavery Co-ordinator (@ASC_Cymru) April 16, 2018
"Before you know it, you are, you're linked, you're pulled in and you're unable to get out again" a girl is quoted as saying in the report.
That ongoing narrative that the surge in violent crime in London is linked to gangs using social media? I had some thoughts about that, so I wrote a thing: "The savage garden of social media: London’s violent crime surge."https://t.co/IekSO9nd7r— Dr Claire Hardaker (@DrClaireH) April 8, 2018
The abuse, exploitation and control of young girls is highlighted as a particular concern for professionals in Waltham Forest where male gang members are using social media sites like Snapchat to discredit women and girls and build their own social media profile. A charity worker describes girls as "being baited out" and "exposed for rape and sexual violence."
More than 50 killings have now taken place in London this year raising it to the highest level of fatalities in England and Wales since 2010/11.— Juliash Ko (@BugeGroupout) May 23, 2018
On Monday night 17-year-old Tanesha Melbourne —Blake was shot dead in a drive-by shooting in Tottenham, north London….
Vulnerable girls known to the local authorities are recruited into gangs from school. Some of the girls are referred to as 'hooks' as they act as recruiters for more young people to be sexually exploited by gang members — whilst they are being abused themselves.
"it's quite hard for professionals to accept that someone can be both a potential harmer and being harmed themselves" a charity worker states.
Social media is described as the "glue" that holds the gang together, "It has polarised gangs in Waltham Forest and nationally, with some eschewing it as attracting unwanted attention whilst others embracing it as a powerful means of promoting the gang 'brand' and drugs sales."
The release of the one hundred page report detailing the behavior of gangs in London, notably the Mali Boys in Waltham Forest, comes as Scotland Yard investigates more than 60 suspected murders in Greater London since the beginning of 2018.