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Young men convicted of firearms offences in England and Wales: an exploration of family and educational background as opportunities for prevention

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Preventing and reducing gun crime1 is recognized to be a complex issue. This article draws upon interviews with 80 young men in England and Wales convicted of firearms offences. The focus of the article is on the family and educational background of these young men as a backdrop to exploring opportunities for longer-term prevention, as part of wider concerted action to reduce the use of guns in criminal activity in Britain. With a few notable exceptions, interviews with the offenders in this study illustrate that they had grown up in disrupted family environments, under-achieved and been excluded from mainstream education and had poor work histories in legitimate employment. The research also shows that the distinction between victims and offenders was blurred. The article highlights the poverty and inequality characteristics of communities where gun crime is a significant problem. It is argued that it is worth considering what is already known about family- and school-based programmes that focus on reducing violent and aggressive behaviour as part of the response to the growing problem of gun crime in Britain.
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Keywords: New Labour; deprivation; gun crime; poverty; social exclusion

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Institute of Criminal Justice Studies, University of Portsmouth, Portsmouth, UK

Publication date: June 1, 2008

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