Understanding and Policing Gangs – Cumberland Lodge Report

Cumberland Lodge Report on Understanding and Policing Gangs in the UK, published on 28 January 2020 at New Scotland Yard

Resource type: Report

The Cumberland Lodge Report, Understanding and Policing Gangs, explores the attraction to gangs, to improve public understanding and inform approaches to policing them more effectively.

It draws on the wisdom and experience of a cross-sector delegation of police officers, academics and researchers, non-governmental organisations, policymakers and practitioners, who attended a three-day conference at Cumberland Lodge in June 2019. This was the 38th annual Police Conference to take place at Cumberland Lodge.

The key themes and best-practice recommendations that emerged from our independent research and roundtable conference were reviewed and refined at an expert consultation involving diverse conference representatives and further specialists in the field, in October 2019.


Download a digital copy of the Understanding and Policing Gangs report from the bottom of this page.

Report launch

Understanding and Policing Gangs was launched with a panel discussion at New Scotland Yard, on Tuesday 28 January 2020, with guest panelists Dr Simon Harding (University of West London), Chief Constable Olivia Pinkney QPM (Hampshire Constabulary), and Noël Williams (Peer Power). 

Dr Robert McLean (University of the West of Scotland) is the author of the report. He is an early-career researcher who specialises in gang crime, who we commissioned support this 12-month project as a freelance Research Associate.

You can watch or listen to the recording of the report launch here.


The report’s recommendations, which are expanded on in full in the report, are:

Tackling gang culture and drug dealing

  • Re-evaluate UK drug policy
  • Monitor online activity
  • Move away from permanent school expulsion
  • Rethink criminal records
  • Engage with marginalised communities by improving cultural competency and providing positive role models
  • Consider the role of female gang members, associates, and their affiliations
  • Encourage holistic wellbeing and spiritual desistance

Policing gangs

  • Adopt the public health model
  • Improve multi-agency partnerships and services
  • Review funding allocations and mechanisms
  • Prioritise the clarification of roles and responsibiliities
  • Recognise the importance of mental health and the impact of trauma
  • Use ‘smart targeting’ and chase the proceeds of crime


We are extremely grateful to KBR for their valued support of the Cumberland Lodge Police Conference, and to the Dawes Trust for supporting our conference busaries, which helps us to ensure as diverse a representation of contributors as possible.