Children Gang Involvement at an All-Time High

27,000 children in England identify as a gang member. Yet, only 6,560 of these children are known by children’s services or youth offending teams. This means that most children associated with gangs remain under the radar.

More troubling still is that 34,000 children linked to gangs have been victims to violent crime in the past year. A report by the Children’s Commissioner for England has painted a deeply concerning and bleak picture regarding the safeguarding of vulnerable children in the UK.

The report asked 25 safeguarding boards in high-risk areas what they knew about the children at risk of becoming involved with gangs. Not one was able to give adequate answers, and several with the highest indicators of gang violence had estimated no levels of gang violence.

The report has concluded that many local areas are not facing up to the scale of gang violence for children, and they are not taking notice of the risk factors in front of them. The BBC also recently reported that thousands of teenagers in care are being dumped into unregulated homes and abandoned to organised crime gangs.

The research looked at the characteristics of children at risk of becoming involved in gangs and when compared to other children known to social services or other child offenders, they were more likely to have social, emotional and mental health issues, to be self-harming and to be misusing substances.

The statistics are scary and provides clear evidence that those who are in gangs need constant support. A Wilderness Way run Wilderness Experiences, a crisis intervention programme which provides care for children and young people who need support. These experiences are particularly beneficial for children who may be at risk for reasons such as gang involvement.

Our crisis intervention programmes are available in 4 – 6-month blocks, and they are delivered through 3 hub properties in Cumbria. We thoroughly believe that removing the at-risk child from their environment helps considerably with reducing gang exposure. We support the children through high-intensity outdoor activities and home schooling which have provided countless young people with opportunities, skills and confidence.

The government states that children in care ‘deserve good quality accommodation.’ At A Wilderness Way, we go beyond this. We ensure that every young person and child within our care has the tools to thrive and fulfil their potential in a supportive and focused environment. We deliver the highest quality residential care for children in a rural countryside environment away from distractions in a peaceful setting.

For reasons of security and risk mitigation, we do not uncover too much about the geography and specific services we offer. For further information and if you know anyone who may be at risk due to their involvement with gangs, send us an email to

What Others Say About Us

I am truly taken aback by the level of care you have shown. The staff have gone out of their way to show him the attention and care that he has never had. When I visited him, it was like I was looking at a different child to what he was before he came. He was not like a child in care, he was like a child in a family. You have literally saved his life.

Social Worker

All children and young people thrive, and they make progress while living at the home. Because of the services provided the children and young people experience an individualised, stable and consistent home life. Children and young people benefit from the integrated, multi-disciplinary approach to education and care. They each achieve their full potential and, in many cases, do so beyond previous expectations.


I am so grateful to the AWW team for their dedication and commitment to caring and supporting Sam. He recently reported that being at there gave him the space to think and the opportunity to reflect on his attitude and make plans for his future.

Social Worker

I have to share my delight at Luke’s progress at AWW. Thanks to your support, in the last 17 weeks Luke and has turned his life around significantly. From where he has come from to where he is now, I am so proud of him.

Social Worker

The placement was really good and beneficial to me. The staff were all really supportive and nice and always made themselves available to me if I had any problems. The outdoor activities that were offered helped me to have a better outlook and showed me that I can do so much more in life, and it really helped me process and made me feel like a better person.


As METCO Officer for Cumbria Police I have regular contact with the team at AWW in relation to vulnerable children at risk of CSE and going missing. If a specific incident has occurred, the Home Manager and I speak on the phone to discuss the best way forward. She also attends CSE risk assessment meetings and we receive Philomena Protocol forms when a young person arrives in placement.

Cumbria Police