In the previous chapter, we drew on insights from interviews with our sample of young people to shed light on the role that drugs play in contemporary youth culture in the west of Scotland and young people's involvement in drug supply and distribution. However, our extended discussions with young people also threw up additional insights relating to an array of wider influences and challenges impacting their lives. This chapter, therefore, outlines the remaining perspectives emerging from our interviews with young people in the west of Scotland, as well as some complementary insights from practitioners. We examine their views on the continuing issues relating to street-gang culture, weapon-carrying and violence; the longstanding (and, to some extent, re-emerging) issues associated with football bigotry; and the amalgam of newer issues relating to and emerging from social media engagement.
In Chapter 5 we suggested that, by helping to break down territorial barriers, public health interventions have on the one hand helped to reduce street gang violence while at the same time allowing increased social mobility and thus perhaps unwittingly allowing gangs to evolve and become part of existing drug supply chains. However, throughout the book, we have also made intermittent reference to the evidence suggesting that reported numbers of violent incidents have plateaued (or even increased slightly) in recent years (particularly in socially disadvantaged communities in the west of Scotland), following a lengthy period of decline (Batchelor et al, 2019; Scottish Government, 2019b, 2020b, 2020c). It is evident that, to some extent, street gang violence may still have a presence in some geographical locations, alongside wider contemporary challenges facing youth.
The sections that follow draw on the final stage of our thematic analysis, presenting the remaining lived experiences described by our young participants (as listed in Table 5.1), as well as some complementary perceptions given to us by practitioners (see Tables 3.1 and 4.1).
Young people's wider lived experiences and contemporary challenges
Lingering territorial boundaries, violence and knife-carrying
In Chapter 2, we drew attention to the research that has consistently suggested that street gangs in the west of Scotland have tended to be recreational youth groups with flexible structures and no fixed organisational hierarchies, and have inherently been tied up in issues related to masculinised territoriality (Deuchar, 2009a, 2013; Fraser, 2013, 2015).