This article was contributed by Government Home Office

The Home Office leads on immigration and passports, drugs policy, crime policy and counter-terrorism and works to ensure visible, responsive and accountable policing in the UK. It is a ministerial department, supported by 26 agencies and public bodies.

Main content

Knife crime and if your child is in a gang: advice for parents

Image: Cheryl Vanstane

Worried about the surge in knife crime among children and young people? Think your child may be involved in a gang? Read our advice from the Home Office on what to do, and follow the links for further advice and information online

If your child is involved in a gang they may be scared and not want to talk about it. It is important that they know you want to listen and support them. Make sure they know they have a choice.

Stay calm

Ask questions, but listen too. Don’t be afraid of confrontation, but try not to approach them with anger and accusations. Try to understand the situation from their point of view and why they have joined the gang. Ask them what you can do to help. Try to agree about what they should do next. Work with them to find solutions and choices.

Seek help from local community organisations or youth services

They can offer specialist support and programmes to help them leave the gang. Contact local support networks such as faith groups or neighbourhood police officers connected to your local school.

What the law says about gangs, knife crime and carrying a weapon

The law focuses on criminal behaviour. If an offender is part of a group or a gang, this may lead to a longer sentence.

  • If your child’s presence or actions lead to a crime they could be charged with the same offence as the main offender. For example, if they provided support or encouragement to a fellow gang member who committed a robbery or injured someone, they too could be charged with the offence. This is called joint enterprise.
  • It is illegal to carry a knife in a public place, even if it belongs to someone else.
  • It is also illegal to carry a folding pocketknife if the edge of the blade exceeds 3 inches.
  • It is illegal to carry a pocketknife if the blade can be locked.
  • It is illegal to carry any knife, including folding knives, if there is intent to use it as a weapon, even if it belongs to someone else.
  • The maximum sentence for possessing a knife in a public place without a good excuse has been increased from two to four years for 16-17 year olds and adults.
  • It is illegal to keep any prohibited firearm, or to carry any firearm – including an imitation firearm – in public, even if you are carrying it for someone else.
  • The maximum sentence for unlawful possession of a prohibited firearm is 10 years. The minimum sentence is three years for 16-17 year olds and five years for adults.
  • Police can and will search someone if they believe they are carrying a gun, knife or other weapon.
  • Police and school staff can also search young people for weapons at school.

You should call 101 to report crime and other concerns that do not require an emergency response. Call 999 in an emergency.


Neighbourhood Police – to find details of your local team and find out more about the work they are doing in your area, type your postcode on the website.

Crimestoppers – a free, confidential service where you can report information about a crime anonymously. Freephone: 0800 555 111.

Local Authority/Council – Connect to your Local Authority and find out about local specialised work with gangs, parent groups and activities for young people in your area. They can also refer you to parenting support programmes.  

National Council for Voluntary Youth Services – a network of over 280 national organisations and regional and local networks that work with and for young people. 

Further reading

Gangs: signs and how to prevent involvement

Helping your child cope with peer pressure

Why is knife crime increasing in England and Wales?

The advice published on Parent Info is provided by independent experts in their field and not necessarily the views of Parent Zone or NCA-CEOP.

Updated: ​May 2018

Related articles

Explore further