GANGS USING ‘EASY’ TARGET AUTISTIC KIDS
Tricked into joining drugs trade
COUNTY lines gangs are exploiting autistic children’s “desire to be liked and accepted” to get them to sell drugs, experts have warned.
Violent criminals find vulnerable children to groom into becoming drug mules between towns, cities and the countryside.
Hannah Hayward, academic expert at St Giles Trust Charity, which helps people with autism in the criminal justice system, said: “Many gang members manipulate the vulnerability of young autistic people who want to be liked, included and accepted within a social group.
“The gangs use tactics such as offering gifts, or signal that they want this individual to meet up by inviting them to social gatherings so they feel they are being let into their inner circle.”
Youth worker Paul Mckenzie has worked with about 20 youngsters with autism or special needs who he says have been forced to sell drugs over the past two years.
He added: “A lot of them have been like square pegs in round holes all their lives because no one has ever made them feel they belong.
“The gang knows how autism works. By giving him that responsibility, they’re preying on the fact that he works with patterns and repetition very well.”
WE already knew that the bosses of County Lines drug gangs are despicable people.
The practice is one of the major causes of knife crime on our streets.
And the easy availability of Class A drugs such as cocaine has led to more addicts and deaths than ever before.
But if you thought these gangs couldn’t sink any lower, then think again.
Now in a cruel twist, they are using kids with autism and exploiting their “desire to be liked and accepted”.
There is nothing these criminals won’t do to keep their empire alive and line their pockets.
The only way to stop this is to cut off their source and to stop buying their drugs. Gangs would disappear almost overnight if they had no customers.
The middle class users who think drugs are a bit of fun at the weekend need to recognise this.
And think of the other consequences to their habit.
BIG THREAT: Gang member