The War on Gangs or a Racialised War on Working Class Black Youths

The War on Gangs or a Racialised War on Working Class Black Youths

Stafford Scott, Head of Advocacy at The Monitoring Group, writes about the Government’s bogus war on gang and gang culture.


In this essay, TMG is able to share and examine the Metropolitan Police’s secretive ‘gangs’ database, the Gangs Violence Matrix.  In so doing it becomes evident that this is a racialised database; that captures not only the names of those alleged to have been involved in serious youth violence, but also the details of their peers and associates with little or no evidence of them having used violence or being gang member. In this piece TMG argues that police have been allowed to infect the entire public sector with its own unique form of institutionalised racism.  As a result the States preoccupation with the gangs narrative has meant that they have failed to find effective interventions to address the rise in serious youth violence that we are witnessing all over the UK.

You can download the report below

The war on Gangs FINAL (PDF)


This report is being released alongside a separate report written by Amnesty International. For details see the press release below


Amnesty International UK





  • New Amnesty report reveals Gangs Matrix stigmatises young black men
  • Grime music considered indicator of possible gang membership
  • 40% on Matrix have no record of violence
  • Police set up fake social media accounts to befriend suspects
  • Calls for London Mayor Sadiq Khan to dismantle the Matrix
  • Information Commissioner’s Office should open public inquiry

“There is clearly a huge problem with knife crime violence at the moment in London, but the Gangs Matrix is not the answer. It’s part of an unhelpful and racialised focus on the concept of gangs” – Kate Allen

On Tuesday 8 May at 1pm, Amnesty International UK will be holding an embargoed press conference ahead of the launch of a new report (embargoed for Wednesday 9 May) which raises serious concerns about the Metropolitan Police’s little-known ‘Gangs Matrix’ database.

The press conference, at Amnesty UK’s Shoreditch offices, will present new findings with opportunities to interview key campaigners and spokespeople.

The damning report, Inside The Matrix, raises serious concerns about how people come to be placed on the Gangs Matrix, how the information is shared with other agencies such as housing associations and schools, and the adverse effect being listed on the Matrix can have in all sorts of areas of the lives of the young black males who are disproportionately impacted.

All content is strictly embargoed to 00.01hrs on Wednesday 9 May to coincide with the report’s official launch. Please confirm your attendance.

The Gangs Matrix

The Metropolitan Police Service’s gang-mapping database, known as the Gangs Matrix, was launched in 2012 as part of a highly-politicised response to the 2011 London riots. It lists individuals as “gang nominals” with each given an automated violence ranking from green to amber and red. As of October 2017, 3,806 people were on the Matrix. Around 40% of these have no record of involvement in any violent offence. Meanwhile more than three-quarters (78%) of people on the Matrix are black, a disproportionate number given that the Met’s own figures show 27% of those responsible for serious youth violence are black. The youngest person on the Matrix is 12 years old and 99% of those listed are male.



–       Kate Allen, Amnesty International UK Director.

–       Stafford Scott, from the The Monitoring Group, a leading community based Civil Rights organisation in the UK

–       Lord Herman Ouseley, cross-bench peer and former chair of the Commission for Racial Equality.

WHAT: Press conference for launch of Amnesty’s new report (embargoed until 00.01hrs Wednesday 9 May)


The Human Rights Action Centre,

17-25 New Inn Yard,




WHEN: Tuesday 8 May, 1pm




Notes to editors

For an embargoed copy of the report, contact the press office.

Amnesty International UK media information:

Harriet Garland: 020 7033 1692

Out of hours: 07721 398 984

Follow us on Twitter: @Newsfromamnesty


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