An expert on London gang culture is helping local authorities get to the root of the problem in their bid to make streets safer.

Professor Andrew Whittaker, from London South Bank University, spoke at Harrow Civic Centre this week about his report on developing trends among gangs.

Speaking with councillors, officers, emergency services and community groups, he explained how gangs in the capital – particularly those involving young people – have become more ruthless and profit-orientated.

Cllr Krishna Suresh, responsible for crime and community cohesion at Harrow Council, said: “Harrow is one of the safest boroughs in London but even we are feeling the effects of London’s gang and drug culture.

“Residents have told us that crime and community safety is their greatest concern and we are keen to strive ahead to get to grips with the wider context of how gangs operate. As always, we want to ensure a safer, better Harrow for everyone.”

The report, ‘From Postcodes to Profits’, examined gang culture in Waltham Forest and pointed out that money, as opposed to territory, has become the dangerous driving-force for members.

It looked at the impact of social media on heightening tensions, the role of girls and women due to their perceived ‘invisibility’ in gangs and how young and vulnerable people are particularly susceptible to exploitation.

On Thursday (February 28), the Children’s Commissioner for England released a report noting that an estimated 27,000 children in the country identify as a gang member.

It also found that an estimated 34,000 children knew of someone who was in a gang and had been involved in “serious violence”.

Many of these children, it explained, are unknown to children’s services and it urged authorities to improve safeguarding and look to stamp out the problem.

Children’s Commissioner Anne Longfield said: “The criminal gangs operating in England are complex and ruthless organisations, using sophisticated techniques to groom children, and chilling levels of violence to keep them compliant.

“At the moment it is too easy for them to succeed. Thousands of children in towns and cities across England are at risk and the same attention must be paid to protecting them as to other major threats to children.”