From an AP article on the riots in England:
While senior British police officers openly resent that move, analysts of gang culture say it seems logical to seek American assistance, because today's British gangs consciously ape American gang ambitions and style, from the bling to the lingo.
They talk in a street patois shaped by U.S. rap lyrics, use noms de guerre lifted straight from American gangster films and crime dramas, and choose such icons as Don Corleone, Al Pacino's Scarface or Baltimore ganglord Stringer Bell of "The Wire" TV series as their avatars on social-networking sites.
"These teenage gangsters are creating their own criminal worlds, and in their minds it's very much an Americanized world. When they talk about the police, it's 'the Feds,' or 'The 5-0,' as in Hawaii 5-0," said Carl Fellstrom, an expert on England's gangs and author of a recent book on the topic, "Hoods."
British law enforcement authorities admit that, until only a few years ago, they sought to minimize the scale and violent potential of their homegrown gangs. They promoted their preferred label of "delinquent youth groups" and billed full-blooded street gangs as an American phenomenon. ...
The starkest difference between British and American gangs is the firepower. In gun-control Britain, only the bigger gangs make firearms — smuggled in with drugs shipments from Holland, North Africa and the Caribbean — their weapon of choice. For U.K. teenage apprentices and wannabes, the knife is still king.
Most of the more than 5,000 stabbings a year in Britain, according police and social workers, are gangs attacking rivals who strayed into their areas, muscled into their rackets, or simply insulted them.
Already this year in London, eight teenagers have been stabbed to death. One wouldn't hand over his cell phone. Another was stopping a bicycle-borne gang from chasing his younger brother.
Such bloodshed pales in comparison to the epicenter of gang culture, Los Angeles, where an estimated 90,000 gang members have been blamed for the majority of 297 murders last year [which is way down from a few years before].
The LA gang model is the world export leader, with chapters throughout the United States and Central America. Dozens of British gangs brand themselves as L.A.-style Crips and Bloods, too, although no true trans-Atlantic affiliation exists.
This whole idiotic Bloods-Crips thing got exported all over America after the beginning of West Coast gangsta rap around 1988. Local knuckleheads started calling themselves Bloods and Crips. By 1995, a lot of them were dead or in prison, and so the homicide rate dropped pretty quickly in the U.S.
But, this kind of thing could go on a long time in gun-controlled and short jail-time Britain.
It's like soccer rioting in England in the 1970s and 1980s, before it got squashed after the big death tolls at two soccer catastrophes in the later 1980s. Soccer rioting sounds totally moronic to Americans, because we assume it would get you killed really fast, but that mostly didn't happen for a long time. So, hooligan demographics weren't totally bottomscale. The guys who had the money to travel around Britain and Europe to take part in regular riots tended to be skilled blue collar workers.