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Postcode Wars - A Brief History of Crime

  • Publish Date: Posted about 5 years ago
  • Author:by Paul Bradley

Recently there has been a lot in the media with regards to the high crime rates and murders caused by rival gangs, especially in areas such as Birmingham and London. The following is a look through how organised crime has plagued the streets of Britain over the last century and how the gangs have developed from simple street gangs, to organised sophisticated criminal enterprises and to what it is today – adolescents slaughtering each other due to where they were born and grow up.


Most people will have heard of The Peaky Blinders due to the popular BBC2 drama, what a lot of people may not know is that they are based on a real Birmingham gang that was active from the late 19th Century. The peaky blinders mainly carried out crimes such as pick-pocketing and muggings and never really came close to the sort of political influence as is shown by their television counterparts, however one thing which did stick was their sense of style. Members of the gang frequently wore tailored clothing uncommon for gangs at the time. Almost all members wore a peaked flat cap and an overcoat.


The late 50’s, moving into the swinging 60’s, was dominated by two rival factions based in London; The Richardson Gang and the Kray Twins. The Kray twins started off by buying and operating a pool hall before moving on to running some of the most well-known clubs in the West End of London and rubbing shoulders with many high-profile celebrities. Their reign eventually came to an end when they were both convicted of murder, Reg was convicted for the murder of Jack “The Hat” McVitie and Ron for the very public killing of George Cornell.

1980 – 2000:

During this period, several high-profile gangs got the attention of the media. In Manchester there were lots of feuds between several different warring factions. Members of the Cheetham Hill gang were fighting with gangs of Moss Side over who could dominate the drug trade. Thrown into the mix was The Noonan brothers who had control over the security firms and the doors in Manchester and therefore were able to determine who could be inside the pubs and clubs making money. There were so many shootings around the area during this time that the town was dubbed “Gunchester” by the media.

In Birmingham, the beginnings of one of the biggest and longest running feuds the city has seen began. It is rumoured that a big group of friends who were separated by the estates they lived in fell out over a very small matter – some say it was over losing on a video game and others over a girl. The groups split into the now infamous Johnson Crew and Burger Bar Boys. The groups have been in conflict for several years with the hatred being passed down in generations to siblings and children. A lot of the adolescents involved now just say that this is the way life has always been for them and they see no way of it stopping any time soon as its being drilled into people at younger and younger ages.

Present Day:

Youth offending is massively on the rise across the whole country. Violent crime in Greater Manchester, Birmingham and London doesn’t show any signs of slowing down and, unfortunately, it is impossible to pinpoint why this happening. For the past 18 months, the news has been flooded with headlines about ‘Wild West England’ or ‘Lawless Britain’. London has built a reputation in 2018 for being a hub of violent crime and people are scared. It seems every day another young person has lost their lives and has become a statistic. Knife crime is something which is a huge problem within this country, with more young people carrying them than ever before. So far, in 2018 there have been just over 40,000 cases of offences involving a knife or a sharp instrument, this up 6000 from the whole of 2017 and up a massive 15,000 cases than just four years ago in 2014.

There are always the same old 'reasons' that get cited; the drug trade causing rival gangs to kill each other, cuts in the numbers of police officers being actively out on the streets, closure and lack of spending on youth clubs and immigration from countries known for levels of high amounts of crime. It could be any single one of these reasons or a combination of them all, however people as young as 13 are being slaughtered for no other reason than they live in a different post code area. An interview on the BBC recently highlighted how scared some of these people are, 3 adolescent boys who have never been able to shop on Oxford Street as they fear they would be attacked if they left the area of Tottenham they live in.

Something needs to be done and needs to be done fast, unfortunately there doesn’t seem to be one singular answer to put a stop to this spike in violent crime which has already seen 119+ people lose there lives in London alone.

I am a recruitment consultant specialising in the Probation sector. Should my team or I be able to assist you, whether you are looking for work or looking for staff, please give me a call on 01772 208968.

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