Teenage girls wanting to join violent male gangs are being forced into having sex and ferrying guns, knives and drugs, police and charities have found.
The girls, some as young as 13, want to join gangs to raise their own profile or to seek protection. Often they are swayed by the status given to the senior members of the gang.
When they first join they are told they must have sex with one member of the gang — and then find several of the gang waiting for them.
What has shocked welfare workers is that the girls accept the situation as normal and do not appreciate that they are being violated.
The girls are also being asked to store and transport guns, knives and drugs for the male members of the gang and police have evidence that girls are taking guns direct to killers and then disposing of the weapons once someone has been shot.
The problem has been growing over the past couple of years, with charities getting ever more girls coming to them with tales of gang rapes, and yet reluctant to press charges.