Gang rivalries have been “put on hold” and violence “stopped” because members abide by the coronavirus lockdown rules, the head of a charity told Sky News.
Sheldon Thomas, who founded the Gangsline Foundation Trust, said that county line activity had also declined as police followed the “stay at home” guidelines.
County lines refers to city gangs who exploit children to sell drugs in rural areas and small towns.
Mr. Thomas said ” Hello“The activity, where dealers take possession of the housing of vulnerable people to make it a base, has also decreased thanks to measures aimed at slowing the spread of COVID-19.
Some street vendors even “threw drugs to their customers” in accordance with 2 m (6 ft) social distancing guidelines.
Thomas, who was a senior gang member before he changed his life, told Sky News: “The rivalries have been put on hold. The punches have also definitely stopped.
“Everything about violence and” operations “(operations) as they say, has stopped.
“I have not heard of any gang-related murders during the lockout. “
However, Thomas warned that the police should expect the violence to resume once the measures are lifted.
He compared the situation to the Premier League football season, adding, “It has just been suspended.”
The 55-year-old continued: “The violence will start again because these young people, once raped, never forget it.
“I spoke to a member of a Lambeth gang and he said about a rivalry -” we will not let go “. “
Daniel Marczewski, an Exit Foundation gang charity social worker, said he had also seen a drop in violence and other crimes following the foreclosure.
He told Sky News, “Gang life has largely ended.
“The guys on the streets are arrested by the police.
“These guys are having a hard time staying in their local hideouts and behaving as they would before the lockdown. “
Marczewski said it has led to a reduction in drug trafficking as gang members and their clients have to stay inside.
He added that this means that “trigger crimes” that are committed as a result of drug use, such as burglary or shoplifting, have also decreased as a result of the lock-in measures.
Marczewski continued, “The burglary fell because a lot of people are inside.
“And shoplifting – many stores are closed right now.
“Many street dynamics have changed. “
When drug traffickers take possession of the home of a vulnerable person, who usually has learning difficulties or addiction problems, the property becomes a “trap house.”
Thomas said many of these landlords or tenants have underlying health issues, making gang members fear spreading the virus to them in case it draws attention to their activities.
He added that increased police checks on vehicles have also deterred criminals from going to trapping houses.
“You have to understand that gang members don’t stay in trap houses,” he said.
“A gang member just said to me” we can’t go anymore. “
“So now they have moved their operations to their own properties.
“It is kind of a risky situation, because if they are raided, the police will find a lot of drugs and money on their own property. “
:: Listen to the Daily podcast on Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Spotify, Spreaker
The head of the charity also said that the “stay at home” boards had led to a drop in county line activity, and continued: “In January, this type of transaction took place in all the country, but now it’s only in remote areas. ”
Thomas said street vendors worried about getting the virus threw drugs at their customers during the deal.
He continued, “Gang members tend to find innovative ways to make money regardless of the situation.
“One of their actions is to throw drugs through the windows of cars or their bikes to avoid getting too close and possibly catching a coronavirus.
“Their customers throw money wrapped in a rubber band. “
He added that he had spoken to a 15-year-old gang member in Hertfordshire who believed that he should continue to negotiate during the lockout to support his mother.
Mr. Thomas directs both Gangsline Foundation, which offers workshops in schools, and Gangsline Limited, which trains government personnel and police to understand gang mentality.
He enters trapping houses and works with gang members as part of the work of his public company, which also offers strategic advice to government and local authorities.