LONDON (Reuters Life!) - A campaign warning girls not to stash or carry guns for their boyfriends was launched by London police Wednesday.
The hard-hitting advertisements, which are aimed at 15 to 19-year-olds of African and African Caribbean heritage, are designed to combat a worrying growth in the number of young women being arrested and convicted of possessing weapons.
“This year’s campaign has been designed to tackle an emerging and concerning trend,” said Detective Chief Superintendent Helen Ball, head of Trident, the Metropolitan Police unit that investigates gang shootings.
“Those who store and carry guns for others are partly responsible for the crimes committed with those weapons. The consequences for them, their families and their friends are not worth thinking about.”
Police said Trident officers had charged 12 women with possessing a gun so far this year of which seven were teenagers. That compares with 13 charged last year and two the year before.
One recent case saw a 16-year-old girl from southeast London charged with possessing a gun with intent to endanger life and with supplying a firearm after a 9mm Browning self-loading pistol with one round was found in her bedroom.
The four-week campaign, which has the strap line “Hide his gun and you help commit the crime,” will run on radio, in cinemas and on billboards.
“Sadly, young women have always been involved in carrying and storing firearms,” said Claudia Webbe, chairman of Trident’s Independent Advisory Group.
“We are deeply concerned, however, that this involvement seems to be increasing and those who are involved seem to be younger and younger.
“Vulnerable young women are sometimes pressurized into storing or transporting the weapons by men they know, or sometimes willingly do so.”
Reporting by Michael Holden; Editing by Steve Addison