Harriet Sargeant's three year friendship with a South London teenage gang, and in particular the gang leader, Tuggy Tug, began when she met them while researching a report on why black Caribbean and white working class boys fail. Harriet was investigating fears that young men like Tuggy Tug and his gang were responsible for the majority of crime in our inner cities. Over the next three years all the issues that Harriet had written about - single mothers, absent fathers, lack of education and social mobility and the criminal justice system - took on new meaning as she encountered the reality of these very young mens' lives. Her own ideas were profoundly challenged as she tried to help the gang members to help themselves. She also saw how the State deals with these young men through encounters with their teachers, Jobcentre workers, social workers and lawyers. Tuggy Tug eventually admitted to committing more than 100 robberies and was sentenced to prison. By the end of the book, three of the boys are in prison, one is in a mental hospital, and one appears to be a successful criminal,. In a remarkable and moving book, Harriet Sergeant investigates the forces that turned potentially decent young men into misfits and criminals. As Britain faces the first anniversary of last summer's riots, this book should be required reading for all of us.

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