EXCLUSIVE: Hackney ex-gangster highlights rise of sexual abuse in gangs

Ex gang member Gwenton Sloley

Ex gang member Gwenton Sloley - Credit: Archant

Social media has sparked a rise in gangs using sexual abuse as a weapon, according to an ex-gangster who now runs a project to rehabilitate former gang members.

Gwenton Sloley, 31, a once prominent member of Hackney syndicates Holly Street Boys and Love of Money (LOM), is calling on the community to tackle issues faced by young people in gangs - including sexual abuse and drug trafficking.

He said: “The sexual abuse that happens in gangs has a power element.

“What we have found is some gang members will use sexual abuse as a tool to degrade a person, film it and then put it on social media as blackmail or to say ‘I’m so dangerous; I raped him.’

“It is used now as a weapon and it’s increased a lot because it goes viral within seconds.

“There was a case covered in the news where a boy raped another boy because he said he had ‘rubbish’ mobile phone. When I showed that clipping to young people they said that was standard; they have been desensitised by the media.”

Gwenton spent time in nine different prisons for armed robbery and changed his life after his release in 2005.

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He now works alongside Coreplan, an outreach consultancy, has written two books and runs his own project, the Crying Suns Trust, which helps people escape the cycle of poverty, crime, prison and violence.

He also mentors around the country, working closely with Scotland Yard, the Home Office and local authorities to raise awareness and fight the exploitation of young people involved in street crime.

Gwenton said children are being increasingly used as drug mules, with gangs often targeting vulnerable youngsters in care, pupil referral units, or with undiagnosed mental health issues.

He said: “The youngest child we’ve had is 11 years old and this is happening all over London. A lot of them are sent to the coast to do deals. When they go missing from school they get found in places like Portsmouth and Southend.

“They can’t see the opportunities available to them, just the easy option – you don’t need any qualifications to pretend to be loyal and dangerous.

“They work in shifts normal people aren’t doing, and take risks as they are so determined to make money. We say to them, if they used that same mindset on legitimate enterprise they could achieve so much.”

Gwenton added: “We can address this by working together and everyone notifying each other if a young person doesn’t turn up at home or at Pupil Referral Units.”

For more information, visit: coreplan.co.uk.