Gangs replace family life, says police chief

Family breakdown is driving teenagers into a “gang culture based on violence and drugs”, a leading police officer has warned.

Barbara Wilding, the Chief Constable of South Wales Police, described an “angry” generation of young people seeking to replace their broken family ties with the tribal loyalty of gangs.

Her comments were made during a speech delivered in May, but were made public after The Times newspaper obtained a transcript.

She said: “In many of our larger cities, in areas of extreme deprivation, there are almost feral groups of very angry young people.

“Many have experienced family breakdown, and in place of parental and family role models, the gang culture is now established.

“Tribal loyalty has replaced family loyalty and gang culture based on violence and drugs is a way of life.”

Her comments follow a spate of warnings from legal professionals, teachers and other experts that family breakdown is harming children.

In April the Good Childhood Inquiry found that children are increasingly suffering from mental ill health, with family breakdown a major cause.

In the same month a report from teachers’ union, NASUWT, said that children often joined gangs to seek the security they lacked at home. Meanwhile the Social Justice Commission reported that children whose families break down often face a bleak future as a result.

Earlier this year Mr Justice Coleridge, a High Court judge, said that family breakdown was among the most serious social problems facing British society, and tackling it should be placed at the top of the Government’s agenda.

He said: “What is certain is that almost all of society’s social ills can be traced directly to the collapse of the family life.”

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