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  • Author or Editor: Robert McLean x
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Drawing upon unique empirical data based on interviews with high-profile ex-offenders and experts, this book sheds new light on drug markets and gangs in the UK. The study shows how traditional methods of tackling gang violence fail to address the intertwined nature of those criminal activities which can overlap with other organised crime spheres. McLean sparks new debate on the subject, offering solutions and alternatives.

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This chapter opens with the major heading ‘Introduction’, and explores how since the turn of the century there has been a drastic increase in the perception that US style street gangs are now being found on UK soil. These gangs consist of individuals who are organising themselves into gang or gang-like structures/networks to conduct gang business: which are often linked to illegal drug supply. The chapter then draws attention to the fact that while there has been a scurry of activity south of the border in England where gang researchers to explore whether or not UK gangs are really now beginning to resemble their US counterparts, in Scotland this has not been the case as gang research has stagnate: focusing only upon the gang in its embryo stage of development. The chapter then moves to setting the research background with the major heading ‘Glasgow: The Backdrop’ before introducing the reader to the research sample.

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Having outlined the purpose of the book in Part I, in the last chapter, chapter 2 reviews existing US and British gang literature. This chapter breaks down the gang concept and analyse literature form three resulting perspectives: the environment; the structure; and activities. This allows aspects of the gang to be analysed while also accounting for a holistic picture as well. The chapter then looks to explain how research has gradually brought closer concepts of ‘the gang’ and ‘drug harms’ - in that drug distribution has become a central feature when conducting gang research. After reviewing gang research the chapter then provides a brief overview on organised crime literature. This explains how aspects of the gang, at all levels, has come to be tied to various aspects of organised crime terminology. As a consequence, such perceptions retain potentially net-widening and criminalising properties.

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While chapter 2 outlined gang research in three main ways - context, structure, and literature – the discussion was largely situated within the wider US, European, and broader UK context. Yet Scottish gang literature was excluded. This chapter looks at gang research in the Scottish context more specifically and as such can essentially be broken into two parts. The first part of this chapter looks at Scottish gang literature in much the same format that the previous chapter explored gang research more broadly. This means looking at gang structure, activity and context. The second half of the chapter is dedicated to exploring in detail some of those reasons which have contributed to the stagnation of Scottish gang literature and how gangs are believed to be in the Scottish arena. This is explained by exploring several contributory factors, ranging from gang narratives, conducting gang research, socio-economic influences, amongst other reasons.

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This chapter explores gang evolution and presents findings from original, and follow up, data via participant voices. To achieve the chapters, purpose a typology explaining gang organisation, situated on a shifting continuum, is presented. The typology explains how although gangs may evolve, it is by no means a given that most will do so: in fact few actual do. The chapter then proceeds to explore gang structures and organisational properties, presented in the typology given. The headings within correspond to the typology which outlines three main stages of development as: young street gangs (YSGs); Young Criminal Gangs (YCGs); and Organised Crime Gangs (OCGs). The focus of this chapter is to explore structure, formation, and organisation as opposed to detailing any specific type of gang activity.

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Following on from the theme of the last chapter which highlighted the formation, membership process, and other structural characterises of gang types in the research context, this chapter continue by presenting the gang, again within the typology framework, and explores gang activity in a more generic sense. In doing so the chapter looks to present what is essentially a descriptive account of the collective and individualistic behaviour which is most commonly associated with each level of gang typology. While structure and activity, are always intertwined and feed off each other, nonetheless the purpose of this chapter is primarily to be descriptive, with structure largely being allotted a secondary role. This is largely because; a) the chapter is aimed at a broad audience, and b) the chapter is merely looking to attribute some degree of activity to the relevant typology, which can be vast at the lower end of gang spectrum.

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While chapter 4 sought to explore organisational and structural properties, chapter 5 sought to provide a generic and largely descriptive account of gang activities sin relation to level of gang organisation. Chapter 6 looks to build upon structure and activity by specifically focusing upon one, and the main, type of activity in which gangs are found to operate within. This is illegal drug supply. By doing so chapter 6 adds the relevance of context to the book discussion. The chapter opens by re-examining the supply of illegal drugs into the British Isles, and more specifically the research context (i.e. Scotland). The chapter then proceeds to outline how drug supply works in relation to context and specific level of gang organisation. YSGs are found to mainly be engaged in the social supply of drugs. YCGs are found to be involved anywhere between retail-level and wholesale drug supply. OCGs are found to be involved in importation and high-end wholesaling of drugs in the county. In addition, OCGs are also found to engage in illegal-governance and thus control to varying degrees the activities of lesser gang types within drug markets.

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The book began with two main objectives: a) to provide insight into contemporary gang organisation as a means for gang business; and b) to reengage Scottish scholarly gang literature back into the wider scholarly UK gang debate. This chapter seeks to evaluate whether the two main objectives have been achieved. A general summary of the book is given which also looks at factors which contribute to gang organisation, before the chapter moves towards how the research could be used and applied to practice and policy for law establishment, law enforcement, and wider practitioner groups. Within the discussion on policy and practice attention is drawn more to potential predictors which see ‘core’ or persistent offenders progress towards organised crime. The chapter finishes with a short reflection of the study as a whole, and in doing so draws attention to various limitations and future research areas.

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Analysing criminal trajectories via the lens of group offending from childhood to adulthood, this book explores gang organisation as a means for gang business in the contemporary British context. The study itself draws upon a five year study, carried out in the West of Scotland, to present in the voices of practitioners and more notably (ex)offenders the activity which gangs engage in the look to survive, operate, and expand in the illegal criminal underworld. The book is unique in that gang structure, activity, and context are analysed independently yet presents a holistic picture of what (dis)organised crime looks like in Britain today. Particular attention is paid to gang involvement in the countries illegal drug market, with unique light shed on the subject. In addition, the author explores how this illegal activity often overspills and is intertwined with the legitimate British economy.

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Author:

Analysing criminal trajectories via the lens of group offending from childhood to adulthood, this book explores gang organisation as a means for gang business in the contemporary British context. The study itself draws upon a five year study, carried out in the West of Scotland, to present in the voices of practitioners and more notably (ex)offenders the activity which gangs engage in the look to survive, operate, and expand in the illegal criminal underworld. The book is unique in that gang structure, activity, and context are analysed independently yet presents a holistic picture of what (dis)organised crime looks like in Britain today. Particular attention is paid to gang involvement in the countries illegal drug market, with unique light shed on the subject. In addition, the author explores how this illegal activity often overspills and is intertwined with the legitimate British economy.

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