LONDON: A common youth recruitment tactic of gangs in the UK has been revealed as the simple offer of free fried chicken to starving and impressionable kids.
Charities in Britain are warning that gangs are using the offer of free fast food – burgers, chips and fried chicken – to lure children as young as seven into becoming pawns in their vast drug networks.
Known as “chicken shop gangs”, it is believed teenagers aged between 14-17 are at most risk in falling prey to the tactic used by gangs to groom children into willing members.
It is thought that children having disciplinary troubles at school are particularly vulnerable to the exploitation.
According to some experts, the growing use of the tactic by gangs is a sign of failure by authorities and government.
The shocking details have been revealed during the written evidence submitted to Youth Select Committee as part of its investigation into the knife crime epidemic afflicting the UK.
Natasha Chopra, from the London based charity The Children’s Society, told The Independent that cuts to youth services by the British Government had led to more children and young people at risk forced to spend their time at places like fast food restaurants.
“Young people tend to go to places like fast-food chains of a cheaper cost. Young people may use certain fast-food chains as a place to socialise,” Ms Chopra told the newspaper.
“In terms of exploitation, these exploiters know that these young people are going to be at a vast range of fast-food chains.
“That’s when the ‘targeted’ stage comes in, because exploiters will actually watch and observe the young people.
“They will watch and they will check and think, ‘ok this particular young person comes in at this time, they leave at this time. Why are they not going home?’
“That’s the way it will start with a conversation like, ‘hi, here’s some chicken or here’s some chips’ and that relationship can form quite easily.”