The MP for Streatham, Chuka Umunna, cited our research on joint enterprise and gangs in a debate yesterday in parliament on 'Gangs and serious youth violence'.
Commenting on our research, Mr Umunna argued that using the term 'gang' was unhelpful and stigmatising:
'I wonder whether, by using the term and labelling young people as gang members, we reinforce the notion that they are gangsters. What is a gangster? I wonder how helpful it is for us to use the term. Let us face the fact that using the term enables officialdom to put all these young people in a bracket—“Oh, they’re part of a gang. If they lose their lives, oh well, that doesn’t matter. They’re part of a gang.” I am not sure we should allow this to carry on.'
Mr Umunna also stressed the importance of addressing the experience of emotional trauma in young peoples' lives. Referencing the work of Project 507, set up by Whitney Iles, he said,
'The other big issue is trauma—the sheer trauma that many of our young people experience in their daily lives, which requires much greater consideration than we see reported in our media.
'To return to the work of Whitney Iles, this issue needs to be seen as one not just of violence prevention, but of health, particularly mental health. Our young people are being traumatised by some of their experiences, but they are being given no support to deal with it. Unless we start engaging with them, not only on the obvious level, but at a deeper level, we will not be able to resolve the violence on our streets.'