A Home Office study found more 9 to 14-year-olds are getting involved with gangs compared with two years ago. They also estimated the age of the majority of gang members to now stand at 15 to 17, followed by 20 to 24 – slightly older than it was two years ago.
Half of respondents also said they believed the youngest age of gang members was 12 to 14, however 1/3rd said 9 to 11 and less than 10% thought there were gang members under the age of nine.
It further warns that gangs are using young people to transport drugs – especially in the capital. “Young people were said to be given targets for selling and punished if the targets were not met,”
An interviewee also claimed girls were being used to carry and hide weapons and prohibited items into prison, which was backed up by a gang associate and the mother of a gang associate.
Furthermore, it was reported that girls were carrying and storing drugs and firearms in their areas, as well as being sexually exploited and experiencing sexual or physical violence.
They were also told of girls being used to set up encounters with rival gangs, while questions were raised over girls and their consent to sex, with an interviewee from London claiming that both girls and boys in gangs see group sex as “normal”.