Youth Gangs

Preventive social measures to reduce juvenile delinquency and gang crime


Günter Stummvoll


Anette Scoppetta


Many European countries are confronted with an aggravated problem of gang crime and increasing violence in the streets. Youth gangs often include young people with a variety of social problems associated with poor schooling, migration background, low socio-economic status and living in deprived neighbourhoods.

Social prevention tries to reduce the likelihood that individuals or groups will include crime in their repertoire of behaviours by strengthening informal (immediate and extended family, neighbourhood networks, peer group) and institutionally based (e.g. in education, work, culture and sport) incentives to be law abiding.


The focus of our analysis was on good practice examples and effective social policies to reduce juvenile delinquency particularly in the form of gang crime.

The project aims were to:

  • Identify socio-economic risk factors that may contribute to the involvement of young people in gang crime;
  • Assess prevention policies on several governmental levels (national, regional, local) that focus on the problem of youth gangs, and highlight social prevention approaches in response to the particular risk factors;
  • Present good practice examples from various international research projects;
  • Identify institutions of the public, the private and the civil society such as the police, schools, public health, family, community, social work and probation services, and describe their potential contributions in preventing gang membership; and
  • Develop a multi-agency approach to tackle the problem of youth gangs and street violence.


Desk research included a literature study on recent international research projects that focus not only on the composition and cultures of street gangs, but more importantly provide clear policy guidelines as outcomes of their research (ISRD-study; EUROGANG; TRANSGANG).

Risk factors, prevention policies, and social control mechanisms were integrated and presented in a multi-agency model, with reference to some examples from best practice projects.


The results of the desk research was presented in three policy briefs and a final report:

(1) Socio-economic risk factors;

(2) Prevention policies;

(3) A multi-agency approach.

The Final Report was developed by connecting arguments and findings in the policy briefs.

The European Centre for Social Welfare Policy and Research supports the Sustainable Development Goals

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