Girls raped as gang 'weapons'


Girls are being used as weapons in disputes between rival gangs, Home Secretary Theresa May said today.

Mrs May said girls and young women were often the girlfriends of gang members and were being raped by members of rival gangs as part of disputes.

She pledged at least £1.2 million over the next three years to improve services for young victims of sexual violence in major urban areas.

Mrs May admitted that girls could also be involved in gang violence themselves, but added: "More often they would be the victims.

"They would be the partners of gang members.

"They would find themselves being abused and sometimes being used as weapons - raping a rival gang leader's girlfriend to get back at that gang."

She said it was a serious issue which the Government needed to "shine a light on".

Mrs May also announced plans for former gang members who are in danger or who want to get away from their old lifestyle to be rehoused.

A 100-stong task force of experts will also be brought in to provide practical advice and support to areas with a serious youth violence problem.

The move is part of plans to tackle young people at risk of being drawn into gangs and violence at every stage of their lives, including as troubled toddlers.

Mrs May said youngsters should be targeted at every stage of their lives to help change the life stories of young people ending up dead or wounded on the streets.

Youth workers could be placed in hospital A&E departments to pick up and refer young people who come in for treatment for knife wounds, and young offenders with mental health needs or substance misuse problems could be diverted to specific schemes when they are arrested.

"Gang and youth violence is not a problem that can be solved by enforcement alone," she said.

"We need to change the life stories of young people currently ending up dead or wounded on our streets or locked in a cycle of reoffending."

Under the plans, set out in the cross-Government report Ending Gang And Youth Violence, gang members who trade in guns could face life in jail following concerns that the same guns are being traded between gangs and used in a series of different attacks.

Mrs May is considering bringing in a new offence of possession of an illegal firearm with intent to supply, with a maximum sentence of life in prison.

Police chiefs have previously called for such a move, saying there was a small number of firearms in circulation that are used on a frequent basis.

The proposals could also see anyone convicted of illegally importing weapons face up to 14 years in prison, instead of the current 10.

So-called gang injunctions will also be extended to 14-17-year-olds.

The injunctions enable authorities to ban gang members from wearing distinctive colours or from entering rival territory.

They also give civil courts the power to ban people from going out in public with dogs that have been used as weapons.

The report also emphasised that gangs cannot simply be seen as an issue for the police - other agencies, including health, education, housing and job centres, should see preventing violence as part of their broader aims too.

Mrs May said there was no national estimate on the number of gangs.

Outlining the plans in the Commons, Mrs May told MPs: "If we are honest with ourselves, we need to accept that not enough has been done over the years to deal with a problem we all knew existed and we knew was not being addressed.

"But the riots brought home to the whole country how serious a problem gang and youth violence has become.

"Gangs were not the sole cause of the riots, but they were a factor."

She said early intervention was the most cost-effective way to reduce violence later in life, adding that the Government was recruiting 4,200 extra health visitors and doubling the capacity of family nurse partnership schemes to help 13,000 young mothers.

Some £18 million is also being used to identify and support victims of domestic violence and their children, she said.

Mrs May added that the 100-strong task force, known as Ending Gangs and Youth Violence teams, would involve community activists, NHS experts and police officers.

"They will offer intensive support to gang-affected areas to help them understand their problem and develop their own solutions, which could include rolling out schemes to rehouse gang members who want to exit the gang lifestyle."

Mrs May added: "For too long communities have lived in fear of gangs.

"Many young lives have been ruined; many young lives have been lost.

"This summer showed that it is time for society to take a stand."


Alan Bennett has criticised the “repellent” reality shows which dominate our screens
tvBut he does like Stewart Lee
Life and Style
The Google Doodle celebrating the start of the first day of autumn, 2014.
Arts and Entertainment
Sheridan Smith as Cilla Black and Ed Stoppard as her manager Brian Epstein
tvCilla Episode 2 review: Grit under the glamour in part two of biopic series starring Sheridan Smith
David Moyes and Louis van Gaal
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Life and Style
Vote with your wallet: the app can help shoppers feel more informed about items on sale
lifeNew app reveals political leanings of food companies
Former Governor of Alaska Sarah Palin, left, with her daughter, Bristol
newsShe's 'proud' of eldest daughter, who 'punched host in the face'
New Zealand fly-half Aaron Cruden pictured in The Zookeeper's Son on a late-night drinking session
Arts and Entertainment
Salmond told a Scottish television chat show in 2001that he would also sit in front of a mirror and say things like,
tvCelebrity Trekkies from Alex Salmond to Barack Obama
Life and Style
Carol O'Brien, whose son Rob suffered many years of depression
healthOne mother's story of how London charity Maytree helped her son with his depression
Arts and Entertainment
The cover of Dark Side of the Moon
musicCan 'The Endless River' carry on the tradition? See for yourself
Life and Style
food + drink
Rob Merrick's Lobby Journalists were playing Ed Balls' Labour Party MPs. The match is an annual event which takes place ahead of the opening of the party conference
newsRob Merrick insistes 'Ed will be hurting much more than me'
A cabin crew member photographed the devastation after one flight
A new app has been launched that enables people to have a cuddle from a stranger
voicesMaybe the new app will make it more normal to reach out to strangers
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Day In a Page

Secret politics of the weekly shop

The politics of the weekly shop

New app reveals political leanings of food companies
Beam me up, Scottie!

Beam me up, Scottie!

Celebrity Trekkies from Alex Salmond to Barack Obama
Beware Wet Paint: The ICA's latest ambitious exhibition

Beware Wet Paint

The ICA's latest ambitious exhibition
Pink Floyd have produced some of rock's greatest ever album covers

Pink Floyd have produced some of rock's greatest ever album covers

Can 'The Endless River' carry on the tradition?
Sanctuary for the suicidal

Sanctuary for the suicidal

One mother's story of how London charity Maytree helped her son with his depression
A roller-coaster tale from the 'voice of a generation'

Not That Kind of Girl:

A roller-coaster tale from 'voice of a generation' Lena Dunham
London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice. In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence

London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice

In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence
Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with Malcolm McLaren

Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with McLaren

Designer 'felt pressured' into going out with Sex Pistols manager
Jourdan Dunn: Model mother

Model mother

Jordan Dunn became one of the best-paid models in the world
Apple still coolest brand – despite U2 PR disaster

Apple still the coolest brand

Despite PR disaster of free U2 album
Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits