at school and local amenities such as parks or sports fields. If simple association is enough to get a person labelled a gang member, despite no evidence of criminal activity, then this can have major ramifications for that person. These can range from increased police attention, through to being excluded from community events (Ralphs et al , 2008). As identified by Ralphs et al (2009) in their case study, into an unnamed estate, a further implication of being wrongly identified as a gang member can be suspension from school, based on little or no evidence, apart from presence in an area and infrequent association with gang members, who lived in the same locality. The stigma of being labelled a gang member, by the authorities, or others can also make it hard for individuals labelled as such from accessing agencies facilities
31 | P a g e as identified by Bullock & Tilley (2008). Due to the overwhelming majority of gangs being present within areas with identified levels of deprivation (Bradshaw & Smith, 2005); this could have a huge impact on the individual’s abi lity to extract themselves from a position of potential poverty. Being ostracised from main stream social provisions could entrench the factors which some, including Ralphs et al (2009), and Pitts (2007) see as the precursors for street gang involvement. Access to support agencies is often vital, not just to those individuals labelled gang members, but also to their families. Should individuals be wrongly labelled, the implications can be far more impactful than just on the family, should suppression be the only tactic utilised to deter gang activity. Another problem associated with the inaccurate labelling of individuals as gang members, may be the resulting targeting of that individual by a rival gang, as identified by Heale (2008). Whether this labelling is from a rival gang, or by authorities, this can have extremely serious consequences for an individual. These consequences could include personal violence, restriction of mobility, due to the inability to enter a rival gang’s territory and access to services and amenities, should a rival gang congregate in that area. Individuals wrongly identified as street gang members, who are subject to increased police attention and restrictions , such as those highlighted above, may exhibit signs of “ secondary deviance ” and further criminality (Ralphs et al 2009, p.490). This can be due to inaccurate labelling, and the potential for targeting by rival gangs, leading the individual to seek to protect themselves from physical violence, by seeking the protection of a gang. It could also mean that they capitulate to pressure from the local gangs to hold drugs or even weapons, in exchange for cash payment, due to the fact that they cannot access legitimate services, such as further education and youth service provisions. Denial of access to these services impact on the ability of an individual to acquire or hone a skill set, where they may have a genuine interest and which will allow them to find employment.
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