Government figures have revealed social services took hold of no less than 3,667 children in Bristol City between 2017 and 2018. The alarming number showed that 78 children of those accessed were either at risk of joining a gang, already in a gang or at risk of gang violence. The figure has increased by two when juxtaposed with the 36 cases in 2014/15. By 2016-17, it was at 62.
Not all gangs are formed for criminal reasons but children are flagged if they risk to or are involved in criminal gang activities. They are also flagged if they risk becoming victims of gang violence. A child allowed to join a criminal gang might take to a life of crime and drugs at a young age.
It has been reported that gang attacks are becoming quite rampant in Bristol. There’ve been cases where teenagers attack young children with knives and other weapons. Police can confirm the weekly complaints they get regarding the issue.
Children in parks have been attacked. There was at least one reported case in the east of the city in St George. A 14-year-old recently reported getting mugged at knifepoint near the area. The gang-attacks hasn’t been limited to drivers alone. Bus drivers have also come forward to report getting attacked by gangs, especially on Route 75 and 76 through Hartcliffe. There have also been reports of sexual exploitation by gangs.
To combat the issue, the NSPCC has released a Helpline on 0808 800 5000 and 0800 1111. The line is monitored 24/7 and promises to help children who are scared of gangs to speak out confidentially.
Besides the helpline and the NSPCC efforts, parents in Bristol say they still aren’t at ease.
Around the country, the number of children at risk from gangs has shot up from 6,570 in 2016/17 to 8,650 in 2017/18. The number was as low as 3,700 in 2014/15. In London, the number of Children at risk from gangs is around 3, 130. It makes one genuinely worry for children in Bristol.