Preventing Street Gangs

The term street gang refers to a group of three or more people who are formally or informally organized for a criminal purpose. Gangs usually have a common name, sign or symbol that represents them.

Street gangs are a concern as they scare and intimidate members of the community and can negatively influence and lure young people into the gang life. This is a problem as the intimidated community members are less likely to report gang-related crimes, such as theft, harassment, drugs, guns and human trafficking.

Unreported crimes encourage criminal behaviour and prevent police from stopping them.

Recruitment into street gangs usually begins young. Young people are attracted by a false sense of being part of a family, a new identity and stability. Once trust is built, new recruits are convinced to do what the gang members tell them to, such as selling drugs or being a lookout, as part of their duty to the gang. If the recruit refuses to participate, the gang may threaten to harm them or their loved ones.

  • Dressing in a specific style (e.g., gang-related colours, bandanas, gang-related jewellery etc.).
  • Carrying guns and/or other weapons.
  • Using gang-related hand gestures (e.g, making b hand gesture to represent Bloods and c hand gesture represent Crips).
  • Writing or endorsing the gang lifestyle described in gang literature and gang musical lyrics.
  • Tattooing or branding themselves with their gang name or symbol.
  • Isolation from family and old friends.
  • Owns more than one cell phone.
  • Becomes withdrawn from regular activities.
  • Owns expensive items and/or clothing that they can't afford.
  • Changes in appearance (e.g., wearing certain gang-related colours, bandanas, etc.).
  • Changes in behaviour and attitude (e.g., adopting new slang, hand gestures, and/or suddenly refusing to listen to authority figures).
  • Coming home later than usual without explanation.

Please note: possible signs mentioned above are indicators to watch for, but does not confirm the person is involved in a street gang.