The Gangs of New Thurrock

By Michael Casey

YourThurrock Comment Piece

THE SITE of dozens of youths fighting with knives, bike chains and snooker cues at 5 in the afternoon in Blackshots came as something of a shock to many people who witnessed it.

But is it something that people may have to get used to?

A few days later, I was visiting an educational institution (it shall remain anonymous) On entering the grounds, you could sense a mood, a tense atmosphere. Sure enough, in front of me, a fight broke out.

It could have been a co-incidence but returning a few days later, the sight of young men spinning their cars in the car park and music blaring from the speakers indicated that someone, somewhere may have lost the initiative here.

The story of the clampdown/martial law for teenagers in Tilbury during the summer has been well documented here and here alone.

In many ways the authorities are lucky that they do not have a newspaper with tabloid sensibilities in the area otherwise it would be a subject that they would not let go of.

When a member of the Probation Service indicated that there are over 400 members of the Blackshots Massive then you know there is a problem out there.

Each week in Grays Youth Court there are charge sheets full of racially aggravated crimes.

There are many young men who are trying to get out of gang life through their music but there are many others who see it as the key group that they identify with.

The big question is: what are the authorities going to do?

One community worker who wished to remain anonymous told us of youths turning up to a youth club tooled up.

They said: “They spoke to a colleague and said they were off out for a fight in the park. I asked my colleague if they called the police. They said no as they didn’t want to be seen as a grass.”

Taking it as read: what will it take for that worker to understand their civic duty.

The new Chief Constable spoke to Thurrock Council last week. He told them he was going to “Step on the throat of criminal behaviour”

Well that is quite a challenge, quite a statement.

We asked one of his colleagues, whether they would consider being part of a Knife Crime Press Conference.

They said: “Without a tipping point, it would be too politically risky. We are too reactive by nature and that is a hard culture to change.”

I was at a Knife Crime Conference in July but the kids attending were exactly the ones who didn’t need to be there. It was well intentioned but wasn’t getting to the heart of the matter. It needs more than that.

Somebody needs to lead from the front before a young man dies having been stabbed in the back.

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