'Mum, you need to help me': Family of teenager groomed by gang still fear for their lives as report finds thousands at risk

22 March 2024, 01:58

The mother of a teenage boy who was groomed by a gang has said they still live in fear.
The mother of a teenage boy who was groomed by a gang has said they still live in fear. Picture: Alamy
Charlotte Lynch

By Charlotte Lynch

The mother of a teenage boy who was groomed by a gang has said they still live in fear, as a major report has found tens of thousands of children are at risk of exploitation across the UK.

Listen to this article

Loading audio...

Criminals targeted Amanda*'s 14-year-old son and got him hooked on cannabis, before coercing him into dealing the drug for them.

"He believed they were his friends", she told LBC from a location we cannot disclose, as the gang still threaten them eight years on.

"He was asked to take some drugs somewhere... and it's a set up. He gets robbed for the drugs and he owes a debt. The debt continued."

By the time he told Amanda what was happening, he'd been in their grip for four years.

"It was a long time down the road when he came to me and said 'Mum, you need to help me... I'm in a lot of trouble and I don't know what to do'."

It was that night Amanda realised the true horror of her son's ordeal, as he had fought to keep his family safe.

"We had people come to our home threatening to hurt him or kill him if we didn't give them money. Myself and his siblings were being threatened - if he didn't do things we would be hurt.

"There were occasions where he [a gang member] knew where we were, and we were being followed."

He received a criminal record, but was eventually recognised as a victim.

The same day, Amanda says he experienced a severe psychotic breakdown. He now has PTSD, anxiety, and has attempted to take his own life on more than one occasion.

No gang member has ever been brought to justice in relation to his case.

Read more: Former Liverpool football prodigy Jamie Cassidy jailed for 13 years for role in multi-million drugs plot

Read more: King Charles' cousin on the run after hurling racist abuse in McDonald's and threatening to stab social worker

Despite reporting this to the police and social services, the family are not under protection.

"We live day to day, and we don't feel safe in our home. It just keeps going", Amanda said.

"No one was listening to us - I called social services, the police, all sorts to try and get help and to understand."

She is speaking out because of the sheer lack of support she says the family and her son have received.

It comes as a major report for charity Action for Children has found tens of thousands of children are at risk of being exploited by criminal gangs.

Professor Alexis Jay, who authored the report, says they use the same tactics as groups who groom young people for sex - like the gang she investigated in Rotherham.

She found the system to deal with criminally exploited children is "not fit for purpose" as tens of thousands are at risk of being groomed, coerced and threatened into a life of violence, criminalisation and abuse.

The review calls for new offence of criminally exploiting children and a national strategy for preventing exploitation, as polling found over 130,000 parents said their child has experienced 3 or more signs of exploitation.

Professor Jay warned "the real scale of the problem is unknown", and found "serious and preventable harm is being caused to so many children and young people. What is required is a new system designed with the explicit purpose of tackling the criminal exploitation of children."

Paul Carberry, chief executive at Action for Children, said: "Exploiters are efficient at identifying, recruiting and exploiting vulnerable young people, and are often far better at spotting them than the authorities.

"We commissioned this review because the system is failing, piecemeal and letting down our most vulnerable children.

"This is an urgent and preventable crisis, and we call on the government, and all political parties in this election year, to come up with a credible UK wide strategy to prevent the criminal exploitation of children."

The Home Office said it was investing up to £5m to support victims, including funding programmes including a helpline for young people exploited by "county-lines" drug gangs.

An official called the "targeting, grooming and exploitation" "deplorable".

More Latest News

See more More Latest News

Dramatic footage on social media showed the blaze

Wildfires ravage Portuguese region loved by British holidaymakers

Mother of jailed Just Stop Oil campaigner complains daughter will miss brother's wedding after she blocked M25

Mother of jailed Just Stop Oil campaigner complains daughter will miss brother's wedding after she blocked M25

Rene Graham was killed on Sunday July 21

Teen victim of west London park shooting named and pictured for the first time

Kamala Harris has praised Joe Biden

Kamala Harris pays tribute to 'unmatched' legacy of Joe Biden, as Nancy Pelosi backs her for president run

Police said they attended the residence at Wexford Road, Coventry at around 12.15pm on Monday following an emergency 999 call

Woman in her 30s killed after being mauled by pet dog at home in Coventry

Secret Service boss Kimberly Cheatle denied claims she failed to provide Trump with adequate protection.

'We failed': Secret service boss brands Donald Trump shooting 'most significant failure in decades'

One of Britain's oldest cricket clubs bans players from hitting sixes after neighbours complain of damaged property

One of Britain's oldest cricket clubs bans players from hitting sixes after neighbours complain of damaged property

Anand Runwal jumped in front of the train to try to save his children

Pictured: Hero father who jumped in front of train to try to save his twin daughters, whose pushchair rolled onto tracks

The moment a sexual predator lured a 14-year-old schoolgirl to a guesthouse where he later raped her has been caught on camera.

Chilling footage captures sex predator luring schoolgirl, 14, to guesthouse before raping her after plying teen with alcohol

Migrants heading to Britain. Home Secretary Yvette cooper today revealed the scheme cost £700m and saw only four volunteers sent to Africa

Rwanda deportation scheme cost £700m and saw just four volunteers sent to Africa, Home Secretary reveals

Piccadilly line to partially close for 16 days in August causing major disruption for commuters and Arsenal fans

Piccadilly line to partially close for 16 days in August causing major disruption for commuters and Arsenal fans

Strictly pro dancer Janette Manrara breaks her silence following claims by former contestant Will Bayley

Strictly dancer Janette Manrara breaks silence following contestant's 'life-changing' injury claims

President of Croatia Zoran Milanović described the attack as a "savage unprecedented crime".

Several killed as gunman opens fire in Croatian care home

A boy was pronounced dead at the scene in Ladbroke Grove

Gunman 'jumped from bushes to assassinate 15-year-old boy' on 'family fun day' at west London park

Search for murdered Muriel McKay's remains called off by police after 'unsuccessful' farm dig

Search for murdered Muriel McKay's remains called off by police after 'unsuccessful' farm dig

Nuclear submariner Marcus Gauntlett is under investigation

Royal Navy sailor accused of stealing secrets from nuclear submarine after 'documents found on phone'