694.5 Youth in Britain: 99 problems but the gang ain't one

Saturday, August 4, 2012: 11:45 AM
Faculty of Economics, TBA
Oral Presentation
Robert RALPHS , Manchester Metropolitan University, United Kingdom
Neo-liberal governments are engaged in managing the security of their citizens through identification and surveillance of risky populations.  New forms of risk technologies and risk management strategies are sought and developed to control new risks posed to society.  Taking the current fears around youth gangs in Britain - heightened by the recent riots of August 2011 - as a case study, this paper provides a critical analysis on the development of risk management technologies and the policing of young people within the ‘gang-risk’ paradigm. Drawing on several empirical studies undertaken by the author, together with an analysis of local authority and national gang policy, it reflects on the increasing use of risk discourses in framing responses to young people associated with youth gangs in Britain.  The risk paradigm is drawn upon to illustrate and problematise the ways that modes of governing gang populations using police intelligence, conflate ‘gang association’ with high levels of risk, which invariably lead to disproportionate sentencing and a range of exclusionary practices. In doing so, discourses of safety, risk and danger are explored. The impact on young people living in gang associated neighbourhoods who are increasingly referred to as either ‘at risk’ or ‘posing a serious risk’ based on gang association is highlighted.  It is argued that ‘gang speak’ has resulted in elevated risk management strategies and unprecedented new forms of risk technologies when dealing with young gang associated individuals.