Project Details


An increased risk of cyber-offending in the autistic population has been suggested (17% autistic cybercriminal vs 0.8% general population; O’Nions et al., 2023; National Crime Agency, 2022). However, Payne et al. (2019) reported autistic diagnosis reduced offending risk although higher autistic traits (no diagnosis) increased risk. This suggests additional variables influencing offending. Impulsivity has been found to increase non-cyber-offending behaviours (Wendel, 2022). Impulsivity is a symptom of ADHD (World Health Organisation, 2021). ADHD is the most commonly diagnosed condition in autistic populations (Shoaib et al., 2022). Thus, it could be hypothesised that impulsivity and/or ADHD traits could help to explain the increased risk of offending in those with elevated autistic traits. An anonymous online survey aims to:
(a) Identify if neurodiversity is over-represented in the cyber-sector
(b) Identify whether a relationship exists between cyber-dependent offending behaviours and autism, autistic traits, ADHD and impulsivity;
(c) Provide neurodiverse experience of lawful cyber employment and/or education.

Layman's description

Neurodiversity refers to a concept which respects and recognises the variety of ways in which the human brain can function. The concept states that there is no "right" way for a brain to work and that the variety in how different brains function are all part of the natural diversity of the human species. Neurodiversity encompasses a variety of conditions including autism, ADHD and dyslexia.

Earlier observations indicated that autistic people may be more likely to engage in cyber-dependent offending compared to the general population. However, more recent research suggests that an autism diagnosis lowers the risk of committing a cybercrime or it finds no association to cybercrime. Despite finding an autism diagnosis reduces risk, for individuals with no autism diagnosis, having elevated numbers of autistic traits increased the risk of committing cybercrime.

This indicates that there are other factors at play. One possible factor is impulsivity, which is known to increase the likelihood of offending behavior albeit in in non-cyber offending environments. Since impulsivity is also a symptom of ADHD, and ADHD is reported to be the most commonly diagnosed condition in those who are autistic, it’s possible that impulsivity or ADHD traits might explain why individuals with higher levels of autistic traits could be more prone to cyber-offending.

Our current research will look into three things: (a) Whether people with neurodiverse conditions are more common in the cyber-sector; (b) If there’s a link between cyber-offending and conditions like autism, autistic traits, ADHD, and impulsivity; (c) The experiences of neurodiverse individuals in legal cyber jobs or education settings.

Effective start/end date4/12/2331/07/24


  • Neurodiversity
  • cyber-offending
  • ADHD
  • autism


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