In the year to April 2016, there were 9,000 knife crimes in the capital, with 866 teenagers stabbed and 291 seriously injured. Seventeen teenagers were murdered in the capital in 2015, the highest figure since 2010, when 19 were killed. After years of decline, the numbers seem to be on the rise, though they remain a long way short of the record 29 murders that took place in 2008.
The fact that the number of deaths has fallen should not be taken as a definitive sign that violence is on the wane, but that staff in accident and emergency departments, particularly in the worst affected parts of London, have become more skilled at saving the lives of people with knife or gunshot wounds.
Under such circumstances, it’s hard to understand why anyone would want to join a gang, but plenty of people do. According to current police intelligence, there are 225 recognised gangs in London, with around 3,600 gang members, but these figures are widely disputed. Sheldon Thomas of youth charity Gangsline puts the true figure closer to 11,000, explaining that the police simply don’t understand the fluid nature of street gang membership and how much it differs from “traditional” organised crime.
17 teenagers were murdered in London last year: up from 11 in 2014, 12 in 2013 and 8 in 2012.
3,600 is the number of gang members in London, according to current Met police intelligence, with 225 recognised gangs. Fifty-eight gangs are considered particularly active - accounting for two thirds of offences where a named gang has been identified as being involved.
40% of London shootings are gang-related. Gangs in London are also responsible for 17% of serious violence and stabbings, 7% of personal robbery and 12% of aggravated burglary.
1 in 10 children aged between 10 and 15 know someone who is a member of a street gang, according to the Office for National Statistics
27,487 incidents of knife crime were reported in the 12 months to September 2015, an increase of 9%.
4,994 incidents of gun crime were reported over the same period, an increase of 4%.
6,000 violent offences were committed by London gang members in the three years up to February 2014, including 24 murders, 28 attempted killings and 170 firearms offences.
323 gangs are reported as being criminally active by police forces across England. We have a long way to go before we get close to America: the most recent estimates from the National Gang Center in the US suggest there are 30,700 active gangs with a total of 850,000 members.