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Gang exit and the role of enterprise

A teenage boy and a teenage girl stand in a graffiti-covered underpass. He shows her something on his phone.

The Dawes Unit was a specialist unit within Catch22 that addressed the harms caused by gangs and youth violence, bringing together research, policy and practice. The service produced a range of research, which addresses the problems caused by gangs and explores how best to prevent gang involvement and support those looking to exit. This publication is part of that output.

This paper focuses on finding sustainable ways to support young people to exit gangs and move forward with their lives. In particular, it focuses on the role that enterprise can play in supporting young people’s gang exit.

Employment has been shown in the past to be a critical factor for those desisting from crime. Current research is now showing that economic transformation over recent decades has restructured this route out of crime, and traditional employment support may not be an effective solution for some in the modern economy.

Enterprise is an appealing solution to some of these problems, as it both holds the promise of job creation and of empowerment for young people and communities. This paper explores the potential contribution to gang exit of different types of enterprises, ranging from established multi-million pound enterprises providing employment, to micro-enterprises run by young people themselves. It then looks at what is currently available, and what we can learn about using enterprise in an effective way.