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Rape figures fear for girls aged 13

PUBLISHED: 14:47 25 February 2010 | UPDATED: 14:54 24 August 2010

Girls as young as 13 are being sexually assaulted as police investigate how gang culture is affecting the soaring number of rapes in the borough, a detective inspector revealed. According to police figures, the number of rapes rose by 18 per cent in Br

Girls as young as 13 are being sexually assaulted as police investigate how gang culture is affecting the soaring number of rapes in the borough, a detective inspector revealed.

According to police figures, the number of rapes rose by 18 per cent in Brent last year.

And Det Insp Tracey Stevens, of the Brent Sexual Offences Unit, revealed that there has been a rise in the number of youngsters aged 13 to 15, who are being victimised.

It comes as the Home Office launched a new campaign aimed at tackling abuse in teenage relationships.

Det Insp Stevens said: "The age seems to have become slightly younger. This clearly is happening at the moment."

She recently led a pilot workshop to raise awareness about sexual assault among young people at Queen's Park Community School, on Aylestone Avenue in Brondesbury Park.

She added: "When we discussed why a female surrounded by a group of youths might not actually fight or say no because they were intimidated, scared and that this would be rape they did accept this and hadn't actually considered this to be the case before.

"We have had a small number of cases reported to us which have involved groups of male youths targeting female youths and the investigation of these does suggest that the group mentality takes over."

Det Insp Stevens said one of the main problems was getting young people who have been victims of such crimes to report it to the police.

She also said it was not too late to come forward to report a past crime as the police are willing to re-investigate cases.

The news came as a survey revealed that one in five women would not report a rape to the police. Of these, 53 per cent said it was because of shame or embarrassment.

The report, by London's Sexual Assault Referral Centre (SARC), the Havens, also found that one in two women in the capital, or 54 per cent, say rape victims must also be held accountable for their role in the crime.

A quarter said they would remain silent over the attack in case their family found out while a similar number, 26 per cent, said they would not come forward if they felt they had led the person on.

Clinical director at the Haven Camberwell, Dr Jan Welch said: "Unfortunately, women have bought into the idea that sometimes the rape victim is to blame. Under no circumstances is a woman at fault for being raped."

She added: "Coping with the emotional trauma of rape or sexual assault is made even harder when the victim is made to feel responsible for what's happened. We're a confidential service and we won't judge you. Our specially trained staffs are available 24/7."

Det Ch Insp Mark Yexley from the Metropolitan Police Service added: "Although the majority of women surveyed said they would contact the police, we understand that not everyone will feel comfortable approaching us in the first instance.

"The Havens offers invaluable help and support for people who may otherwise try to cope with the immediate effects of rape and sexual assault alone."

Recent research by the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children showed that abuse in teenage relationships disproportionately affects young girls.

A quarter of girls and 18 per cent of boys reported some form of physical violence, while nearly three quarters of girls reported some sort of emotional abuse in their relationships.

ben.greening@archant.co.uk


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