Gang membership, drugs and crime in the UK

T Bennett*, K Holloway

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


    There is some evidence from national newspapers and government reports that the number of gangs and gang members in the United Kingdom is increasing. There are also reports that street gangs are involved in serious and violent offending and sometimes carry guns. In some respects, the picture painted by these reports is similar to the stereotype of gang membership in the United States. However, there is little criminological research on gangs in the United Kingdom that can shed light on this development. In particular, little is known about whether gang members are different in any way from non-gang members of similar social background. The current paper reports findings generated from the NEW-ADAM (New English and Welsh Arrestee Drug Abuse Monitoring) programme on gang membership and its relation to crime and drug misuse. The research shows that there are some similarities between the current findings and the results reported in the US research with respect to the social characteristics and problem behaviours of gang members. However, there are also some important differences. The paper concludes that the United Kingdom may be entering a new phase in the development of street crime among young people and argues that it is important to monitor this development for the purpose of policy and fundamental knowledge.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)305-323
    Number of pages19
    JournalBritish Journal of Criminology
    Issue number3
    Publication statusPublished - May 2004


    • Gangs
    • gang membership
    • street gangs
    • united kingdom
    • drug abuse
    • drugs
    • drug misuse
    • crime
    • street crime


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