Coronavirus lockdown rules may be impeding gang life for the time being. As some gang members follow government advice to “stay at home”, gang activity seems to have been put on hold.
Sheldon Thomas, the founder of Gangsline Foundation Trust, noted how some street dealers have thrown drugs to their customers, keeping in line with the 2m social distancing guidelines.
Highlighting the innovative and creative nature of gang members, dealers have been throwing their product out of cars or from bikes, whilst their customers throw money wrapped in rubber bands back at them. Online money transfers are also carried out to purchase illegal substances from dealers.
The increased police presence on the streets is another reason why some gang members are shying away from crime. If they are operating on the streets, there is an increased likelihood of being stopped and questioned.
Image credit Sky News
Crimes that result from drug-use, known as “trigger offences”, have also seen a decrease since lockdown measures were put in place. Rates of burglary and shoplifting have declined, for example.
Contributing to reduced trigger offences is the change in street dynamics since the Covid-19 outbreak. More people are in their homes on a regular and more permanent basis, thus putting off individuals from attempting a burglary. With many shops still closed, there is less opportunity for shoplifting to take place.
County lines activity, which refers to city gangs exploiting children into selling drugs in rural or suburban locations, has also reduced since lockdown measures came into effect.
Just before the pandemic in January, dealing of this kind was taking place across the country, whereas now it seems to be isolated in certain areas.
With children as young as 12 years old being used to transport narcotics between counties across the UK, a reduction of this type of crime is certainly welcomed. The lockdown is currently affecting around 2,000 routes that drug runners operate on.
WATCH: Gang expert, Sheldon Thomas and Good Morning Britain's Alex Beresford, on the panel at a violence reduction conference organised by Powell and Barns Group in June 2019. On behalf of the Nottinghamshire Police and Crime Commissioner.
The English police force estimates county line activity as being worth around three million pounds per day.
Unfortunately, gang violence and crime will likely never disappear. What we are currently seeing, however, is a reduction in crime carried out by gangs - a positive nonetheless. As lockdown measures progressively ease, gang activity will start to rise.
For the time being, the British government, the police force and gang-awareness organisations can use lockdown as a unique opportunity to reflect and better understand gang activity and the ways in which members operate.
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