• Black young people and gang involvement in London

      Pitts, John; University of Bedfordshire (SAGE, 2020-04-06)
      Drawing upon research undertaken by the present author in East, North West and South London and the work of other UK social scientists, this article considers the evidence concerning the involvement of young people of African-Caribbean origin and Mixed Heritage in street gangs and gang crime in London (For the sake of brevity, I will simply refer to these young people as Black, not least because this is how they usually define themselves). It outlines the sometimes acrimonious debate about the relationship between race, crime and street gangs in the United Kingdom in the past three decades, concluding that while many of the claims made about this relationship may be exaggerated or simply untrue, the evidence for the over-representation of Black young people in street gangs in London is compelling. The article then turns to the changing social and economic predicament of some Black young people in the capital since the 1980s and its relationship with their involvement in gang crime. Finally, it considers the role of drugs business in the proliferation of the gang form and ‘gangsta’ culture and the involvement of growing numbers of younger Black people in County Lines drug dealing.
    • Collaborative working in the resettlement of young people leaving custody

      Olaitan, Paul; Pitts, John; University of Bedfordshire (Emerald Group Publishing Ltd., 2020-06-17)
      Purpose: This paper aims to endeavour to sketch out a blueprint for effective collaborative working in resettlement. Design/methodology/approach: The paper is based on a review of the relevant research and interviews with professionals concerned with the resettlement of young people from custody in organisations and agencies that were partners in the Beyond Youth Custody programme. Findings: Practitioners working on the youth resettlement pathway between custody and community report collaborative practices to be more beneficial both to the young people involved as well as the practitioners themselves, in the conduct of their efforts. Originality/value: To the best of the authors’ knowledge, the originality of this paper consists in its investigation of resettlement practice by consulting those actually engaged in the resettlement process.
    • Covid-19, county lines and the seriously “left behind”

      Pitts, John; University of Bedfordshire (JAI Press, 2020-09-25)
      Purpose: The purpose of this study is to suggest how the Covid-19 lockdown may affect illicit drug users and vulnerable children and young people who become involved in County lines drug dealing. Design/methodology/approach: This is an “opinion piece” based on data released by central and local government departments and voluntary sector sources concerning the impact of the Covid-19 restrictions on illicit drug users and vulnerable children and young people. The data is augmented with information from recent discussions with police officers, youth workers and social workers in a London borough. Findings: It appears that the Covid-19 restrictions have had, and will continue to have, a deleterious impact upon both illicit drug users and the young people caught up in County lines drug distribution. Originality/value: The study’s originality lies in its attempt to use a range of sources to anticipate the consequences of the Covid-19 restrictions on illicit drug users and vulnerable children and young people.
    • Critical realism and gang violence

      Pitts, John (Springer, 2016-05-29)
      Although police officers, health, welfare and educational professionals, local residents and their children in gang-affected neighbourhoods are familiar with the effects of gangs and gang crime (Pitts 2008; Palmer 2009; Harding 2014), some academics remain sceptical (Brotherton and Barrios 2011; Hallsworth 2008, 2013). They argue that notwithstanding the stylistic differences between contemporary youth cultures and those of the past, the contemporary furore surrounding violent youth gangs is akin to the demonising discourses—the ‘moral panics’—which attended the Teddy boys in the 1950s, the mods and rockers in the 1960s, the punks in the 1970s, the lager louts in the 1980s and so on. They argue that these periodic expressions of popular outrage tell us more about the anxieties of an adult public, opinion formers and the media than the behaviour of young people (Hallsworth 2011), for example, claims that the problem of the ‘gang’ is not the gang itself but the media driven moral panic and ‘gang control industry’ that surrounds it.
    • Drugs, gangs and organised crime

      Pitts, John (Emerald, 2019-04-08)
    • The end of the line? the impact of county lines drug distribution on youth crime in a target destination

      Andell, Paul; Pitts, John (2018-01-01)
      Paul Andell and John Pitts explore, through local research, young people's gang involvement and subsequent engagement with the national and international drugs trade.
    • The evolution of the English street gang

      Pitts, John (Emerald, 2019-04-08)
      Purpose The purpose of this paper is to consider what the author might call the evolution of the evolutionary argument about gangs and, while acknowledging its explanatory power, suggests that gangs may develop in very different ways depending on the available opportunities, pre-existing forms of criminality in the areas in which gangs emerge and global change. Design/methodology/approach It is based on a review of the relevant literature and interviews with purposive samples of research, criminal justice and social welfare professionals and young people involved in or affected by gang crime. Findings were triangulated with data held by the police and other public authorities. Findings The term “street gang” includes a wide variety of groupings all of which are involved in some form of crime but with differential levels of organisation and commitment to purely instrumental goals. Gangs may form but not necessarily evolve. Gangs appear to develop in very different ways depending on the available opportunities, pre-existing forms of criminality in the areas in which they emerge and global changes in drugs markets.
    • Looked after children and custody: a brief review of the relationship between care status and child incarceration and the implications for service provision

      Bateman, Tim; Day, Anne-Marie; Pitts, John; University of Bedfordshire; Nuffield Foundation (University of Bedfordshire, Nuffield Foundation, 2018-01-01)
      Although there are some important limitations with the data, the available evidence demonstrates conclusively that children who are in the care of the local authority are consistently over-represented among those who come to the attention of the youth justice system. A similar disproportionality is also evident within the children’s custodial estate. While it appears that the relationship is long-standing, it has only recently become the focus of policy attention which has begun to explore some of the reasons for the patterns discernible in the figures (see, for example, Schofield et al, 2012: Laming, 2016). In particular, an independent review of the relationship between the care system and the criminal justice system, led by Lord Laming, commissioned an extensive exploration of the available literature that provides a useful baseline for future research (Staines, 2016). The current review aims to provide a context for research, funded by the Nuffield Foundation, that aims to identity the particular pathways of looked after children into, through and leaving custody and to establish in what ways, and to what extent, these might differ from those of children who do not have care experience. It does not accordingly aim to replicate the earlier work identified in the previous paragraph; instead the intention is to draw on previous reviews, and relevant additional material, through a lens that focuses on the existing evidence base as it relates specifically to the likelihood of children being incarcerated, to their subsequent custodial experience and to the provision of effective resettlement once they have been released.
    • Pathways into and out of organised crime

      Pitts, John; Hope, T.; Hurley, M.; McGibbon, I. (Greater Manchester Police, 2015-12-01)
    • Preventing organised crime

      Pitts, John; Hope, Tim; Hurley, Michael; McGibbon, Ian; Specialist Crime Solutions; University of Bedfordshire (University of Bedfordshire, 2017-11-30)
      This monograph describes research undertaken between 2015 and 2016 into factors precipitating involvement in organised crime in a conurbation in northern England. The research methodology consisted of six quantitative and qualitative elements. The researchers found that, while a small number of upper eschelon Organised Crime Group (OCG) nominals lived in comparative opulence, most were located in low income, high crime neighbourhoods, in which there was a tradition of organised criminality and violence. Their families were characterised by high levels of domestic violence. The research revealed that a multiplicity of agencies had intervened with these families, often to little effect, and the monogram concludes with recommendations concerning how policing and non-policing agencies might work together more effectively to reduce both familial and criminal violence.
    • Realist criminology

      Pitts, John; University of Bedfordshire (2015-05-01)
      Review of:  Roger Matthews Realist Criminology Palgrave/Macmillan 2014 ISBN: 978-1-137-44569-8
    • Responding to youth gangs in England: a public health model?

      Pitts, John (Emerald, 2019-06-06)
      Purpose The purpose of this paper is to consider youth gangs and county lines with reference to the current drive for a public health response to these issues. Design/methodology/approach This viewpoint paper traces the development of gang and serious youth violence responses in England, exploring the shift from a punitive to safeguarding response to young people affected by these issues. Findings Drawing on the learning from both Scotland and the USA, this paper considers the relevance of a public health model to responding to youth gangs and county lines, highlighting the key facets of such an approach. Originality/value This paper provides a historical context to the issues surrounding previous responses to youth gangs and goes on to consider the practicalities and relevance of a public health model response.
    • Surviving incarceration: the pathways of looked after and non-looked after children into, through and out of custody

      Day, Anne-Marie; Bateman, Timothy; Pitts, John; University of Bedfordshire (University of Bedfordshire, 2020-04-03)
      Report describing the findings of a two year study, funded by the Nuffield Foundation, on the relationship between care and child imprisonment 
    • That other epidemic: a review of Simon Harding’s County Lines

      Pitts, John; University of Bedfordshire (National Youth Agency, 2020-05-04)
      John Pitts reviews Simon Harding's book 'County Lines: Exploitation and Drug Dealing among Urban Street Gangs', due to be published in May 2020. Pitts presents Harding's findings alongside other emerging County Lines research and data. He suggests the need to better understand emerging trends in light of the Coronavirus pandemic, where the supply and demand for drugs is likely to increase.
    • Youth crime and youth justice 2015–2020

      Pitts, John (National Youth Agency, 2015-05-01)
      This article considers current issues in crime and justice in the UK and how these may bear upon young people over the next five years. It looks first at the ‘crime drop’ and observes that while conventional crime is falling, cyber crime is growing exponentially and that this may impact disproportionately upon the young. It examines the data on ethnicity, crime and victimisation and concludes that young Black men face particular dangers, particularly if they find themselves caught up in the penal system. It asks whether sexual offending is increasing, as the available data suggests, or whether it is just more widely reported and investigated and it raises questions about how it is to be policed in the future. It asks whether gang crime is growing or changing and, finally, it speculates about how the major parties may deal with ‘law and order’ in the run-up to the May 2015 election.