Police cordon
Police cordonReuters

A girl believed to be aged 15 has been shot dead at a house in Hackney, east London. Police have arrested three teenage boys in connection with her death and they are in custody at a nearby police station. All are believed to be aged under 18.

Police went to an address near Eastway, Hackney close to the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, after reports of a shooting. They called London Ambulance Service and London's Air Ambulance. The girl was pronounced dead at the scene. Her identity is believed to be known to the police who are informing her family prior to a formal identification. A post-mortem will be held and an investigation is being conducted by the Homicide and Major Crime Command unit.

A police spokesman said: "Inquiries continue to establish the circumstances of the incident."

Anyone with information is being asked to call Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.

The number of teenagers murdered in the UK capital has fallen slightly in recent years. In 2008, 29 teenagers were murdered in London, but this fell to 8 in 2012. In 2013 there was a slight rise to 12. If confirmed as murder, this would be the second teenage homicide in the capital since the start of 2014.

Although the circumstances of yesterday's shooting are unclear, it coincides with the release of a report by the Centre for Social Justice (CSJ) warning that girls are often coerced into joining gangs, where they are made to carry drugs and perform sexual favours for male members.

The CSJ report – "Girls and Gangs" - slams head teachers for failing to act to combat the problem because of fears any mention of gangs may hurt their school's reputation. The report also says the Home Office has failed to do enough to fight gang crime since the riots of 2011.