Jun 5 2013 by Hannah Bewley, Harrow Observer
WORRYING anecdotal evidence presented in a report by the partnership and place overview and scrutiny committee’s task group suggests that girls are at risk from gangs in the borough.
The group found that although there is little evidence to suggest that Brent has a girl gang problem, there is anecdotal evidence that there is a developing problem, across London, of sexual exploitation of young women by men associated with gangs.
It also reported that gangs are grooming boys as young as 10 years old.
The report states: “In Brent, gang members are usually young, male, a victim of bullying or violence, lack positive role models, have a drug or alcohol problem, have mental or emotional problems and grow up in poverty.
“Women can be involved in gangs as foot soldiers, as carriers of drugs or weapons, as mother figures or as girlfriends to perform sex acts. They are often passed around gang members and rape is not uncommon.”
There are 15 recognised gangs in Brent, which are normally on or near social housing estates.
The task group investigated the issue and made recommendations to the council’s executive that extended services are created for prevention, intervention and exiting gangs.
The report went before Brent Council’s executive on Monday, May 20.
Victim Support told the committee there was a big link between domestic violence and women and girls associated with gangs and said they were seeing enough girls about this to be concerned about the issue.
Councillor Zaffar Van Kalwala (pictured), who chairs the committee, said: “Tackling gangs is one of the biggest challenges we face as a community. They are having a devastating impact on the lives of local residents.
“The shootings and stabbings leave our communities living in fear and feeling vulnerable.
“Up to 4,000 local youngsters could be affected by gangs and we are seeing a worrying trend where more and more young girls and being sucked into the gangs lifestyle.
“This report brings together local agencies, police, the voluntary sector and the community to provide the services needed to stop gangs in Brent.”
People involved in gangs were asked about the prevalence of gangs in the borough and a majority rated ‘nine out of 10’ and others said it was ‘off the scale’.
The report states: “Recent police statistics also highlight that despite London-wide reductions in gun crime, Brent is seeing a 10.8 per cent increase and is also experiencing increases in knife crime, well above the London-wide figures.”
The task group has recommended the council prioritise tackling gangs and youth violence and work closely with partners and the community to reduce gang membership and violence.
Further work will be done by the council to research this issue.