New guidance to recognise and stop criminal exploitation in children

Date: 11th August 2023
Category: Civil Rights and Freedoms, Basic Health and Welfare
Author: Scottish Government


Teachers, social workers, police officers and NHS staff are being urged to look out for early warning signs that children are being recruited by serious organised crime gangs.

Scotland’s Serious Organised Crime Taskforce has released Practitioners’ Guidance on Criminal Exploitation. This new resource is aimed at tackling exploitation and reduce harm caused by organised crime by making it easier for practitioners across Scotland to support children, young people and vulnerable adults who have been victims of exploitation.

According to the guidance, behaviours to be aware of could include people travelling to places they would not normally go to, changes in peer groups, being nervous about answering phone calls, and owning more than one phone.

Children and vulnerable young adults are more often than not recruited to deliver drugs – which are the biggest income generator for organized crime in Scotland. According to 1919 Magazine, the most vulnerable to criminal exploitation are young people and adults with disabilities such as Foetal Alcohol Syndrome Disorder (FASD), with many in the justice system due to exploitation by criminal gangs. Many within the system are undiagnosed which points to a bigger problem of a lack recognition of neurodiversity and therefore support within and outside the criminal justice system.