London has recently found itself in somewhat of a crisis. We are being constantly exposed to news that the city is becoming more dangerous than ever with a surge in violence. The beginning of April saw sweeping headlines that London’s murder rates had overtaken those in New York. Of course, in such a situation we look for who or what is to blame.
The go-to answer for why this is happening has commonly been ‘gang-culture’. This to me seems an all too basic answer to a complex question. Identifying groups of people as the reason for an increase in violence gives us no answer to why these crimes are taking place. Of course, those committing crimes have been affiliated with gangs. However, the real answer to why crime is rising must lie in why people are joining gangs in the first place.
Firstly, stop blaming music.
When crime in New York was at a worryingly high rate in the 1990s, Gansta-rap came under scrutiny. Blame was put on the likes of 2Pac, Notorious B.I.G, Nas and Dr Dre for an uptake in gang violence amongst young people.
Now in 2018, with the rise of gang violence in London, the prospering UK market for grime and drill music is being looked at as a cause for increasing violence in the capital.
Blaming a genre of music for the decision of one person to kill another was tired and empty in the ’90s, and today the same is true. If anything, the artists in these genres should have our respect for making successful careers out of their less than perfect circumstances. These artists should not be treated like criminals or causes of crime.
A rise in crime is a deeper issue.
Austerity in the UK has seen cuts to youth services, which in many cases has left young people with little to do in their spare time. A long side this, the shambles that has been the government’s response to Grenfell has sent a message that there is a whole community of people that the government are not concerned with. A section of society are being marginalised and left behind.
Perhaps it is imaginable that a young person who feels neglected by their society would turn to a gang for the sake of having a purpose. I am not saying here that we can only expect people to join gangs. What I am arguing is that there are socio-economic problems in Britain which must be looked at as a reason for an increase in gang affiliation.
The government cannot expect to keep making cuts to communities without consequences. Young people in society are being treated as an area for money saving. How can a government consider itself a party for the advancement of society when they continuously take away the resources for advancement.
Cuts in education, cuts in youth services, increasing tuition fees — and all the while where are the policies that help our youth?
The bottom line is, yes gangs are responsible for a lot of the crime we are seeing in London — but who is responsible for the gangs? We cannot just take ‘gang-culture’ at face value and see it as a comprehensive answer to a staggering issue. We have to look deeper into where this gang culture is coming from. We have to make steps to stop gangs from being the only place some young people feel they can turn to.