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.