in which the Soldiers of Shakespeare reside
Postcode Gangs have received headline news over the last few years due to the rise in London gang related violence. The use of the postcode as a means of gang affiliation is not well documented, however stems from the need to identify clear territories in a dense urban context. London’s gangs named by the police in 2007, and in the more extensive goggle mash-up Gangs in London, often use the outward code (first 2-4 characters) of their area’s postcode to identify themselves and their territory. Although the gangs often affiliate with streets or housing estates the postcode districts are used accurately to identify their boundaries. Speaking to the BBC, L.Supt Leroy Logan, a police officer with more than a decade's experience on the beat in Hackney, said how “some teens are so intimidated they take long detours in order not to cross into "rival" postcodes. If they know they have to go to another part of the borough and have to go through another postcode they'll take a bus looping round that area, or get people to drop them."
Other cities in the UK, such as Sheffield, have also seen the rise of postcode gangs. However the Commons Home Affairs Select Committee identified London (with an estimated 160 active gangs in the postal areas E, N, SE, SW, W), as the area of most concern and experiencing an arms race due to its competing factions. The government report cited evidence from the Youth Justice Board that postcodes and transport hubs, being used as identity badges, are a key factor driving offending.The situation has teenagers afraid to cross the road in some areas of London, because they would stray out of their postcode. A resident of Stoke Newington told the Guardian how groups of disaffected youths are defending their territories with knives and sometimes guns, in the London borough of Hackney, in what is becoming an increasingly violent turf war. “The Shakespeare gang (which takes its name from Shakespeare Walk, a popular Victorian residential street) have members as young as 10. It doesn’t matter what race you are, what religion you are; to join you just have to live in the right area. It’s all about territory. And, if someone from another gang strays into their manor, then it all blows up.”
“There have always been territorial gangs in London” said Commander Shaun Sawyer from the Met Police’s Violent Crime Directorate. “What’s different is the levels of violence that are used. In most cases it is knives, and, extremely rarely, guns. It is postcode related. I’ve spoken to young people who say it is about respecting territory and, because they have got nothing else, they have to hold on to what little they have got. The trigger seems more tightly sprung.”
London gangs incorporate everyday street iconography as a marker of their territory as well as the use of graffiti tags. Street signs, which often include the postcode, are a clear marker of where a postcode district changes. These along with local authority signage for housing estates are often customised to identify gang ownership. In some areas of London the colours of street furniture and garbage bins (which are coloured according to the local authority in charge of them) are adopted into gang clothing as colours of allegiance.