From Broken Homes to Turf Wars: The Gangster Journey

With the threat of death or arrest hanging like a sword over the lives of gang members, those on the outside can struggle to understand how young people ever end up choosing the gang lifestyle with its drug running and perpetual turf wars.

Although no young person is 100 per cent immune from gang influence, many of those who are most easily turned are from broken homes. They may have been abused and neglected from a young age and crave acceptance and respect. With no family role model to look up to, they are likely to struggle at school, damaging their self-respect further.

As they drop out of the education system their options narrow and their world shrinks around them. There seems no way out of their postcode trap.

The Lure of the Gang Lifestyle

Imagine a young boy from such a background, full of self-hate and seeing no future for himself. Having been denied even the basics of life’s pleasures, the trappings of the gangster lifestyle, as reflected in the music videos he watches, stand out even more. One day he is approached on the way home from school by a peer who has been hanging around with some older boys. He’s from a similar household but is wearing new trainers or some expensive looking jewellery.

His friend explains how he does a few simple little jobs for these rewards. He talks about how his ‘brothers’ look out for him to keep him safe.

Sure, there are risks involved due to turf wars but this gangster wannabe has no great love of life anyway. This is a way to go out on a high. He hears his life story reflected in the lyrics of drill tracks and imagines himself taking the place of the rappers on the videos with their designer labels, fast cars and women.

By the time he realises the truth of his situation, that he has swapped the prison of the post code for the prison of constant paranoia and endless drug turf wars, he is in too deep.

The Danger of Turf Wars

Turf wars are such an integral part of gangs that they form part of both UK and US definitions of what a gang is:

UK: Gangs “identify with or lay claim over territory.”

US: Gangs “may seek to exercise control over a particular geographical location or region, or it may simply defend its perceived interest against rivals.”

‘Control over territory’ basically means control over the drugs trade in that area. This is critical for the generation of a gang’s wealth. This means both defending existing ‘turf’ and keeping a close eye on the activities of rival gangs.

Any intelligence suggesting that a rival gang is making more money and could soon be in a position to expand would require a response. This is likely to mean sending in ‘a couple of boys’ into enemy territory to disrupt the rival’s operations. This could mean setting up their own drugs operations or arranging fake deals to steal from their ‘ops’.

Ironically, the gang member who dreamed of escaping the ‘hood is now even more trapped since his mere presence in a rival’s area is certain to be met with violence and perhaps death.

A 2020 Dreams Gang Workshop is designed to help young people to recognise the reality of gang grooming, turf wars and the false promises the gang lifestyle offers. We also offer Gang Awareness INSET and PTA Training packages complete with a free eBook aimed at raising awareness and helping communities tackle the menace of UK gangs .

Image Copyright Daily Star: Published 14th April 2018