The Centre for Mental Health have produced a report, A Need to Belong, which sets out some of the health and social risks for girls who are involved in gangs.
As you would expect one of the risks associated with gang membership is substance misuse; on which they say that girls in gangs are between two and three times more likely to misuse alcohol and drugs than the girls who are not in gangs that enter the criminal justice system.
They do point out that drug misuse is even higher amongst male gang members, but don’t comment on the finding that alcohol misuse is by some way the highest amongst girl gang members.
This fits with the correlation between gang membership and drug and alcohol misuse in young people picked out in research for the Home Office back in 2006 and which I wrote about for the Drug Education Forum (here).
The Centre for Mental Health report makes a strong case for early intervention with girls who exhibit the range of risk factors that make them more likely to be involved in gangs, and suggests a set of what look to be to be well thought out policy recommendations.
It will be interesting to see if we see similar things as we analyse the data from our work with Alcohol Concern on alcohol, offending and deprivation which we’ll be publishing later this year.