AbstractPurpose 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.
CitationPitts J (2019) 'The evolution of the English street gang', Safer Communities, 18 (2), pp.64-78.