£300 FOR CITY KIDS TO STASH GUNS
SHOCKING TRUTH OF YOUTH DRUG GANGS EXPOSED
YOUNG people are being paid up to £300 per week just for holding drugs and firearms in Cardiff, according to a report for the city council.
The quick wealth and perceived glamour of crime was cited as one of the major causes of young people being sucked into offending in the city.
“Witnesses [said] young people become involved because of the perceived ‘cool factor’,” the report said.
“They aspire to be like the drug dealers with their expensive trainers and nice cars.
“Wrongly, dealing is perceived as an easy option initially for making money.
“Others stated that they thought a lot of young people asked themselves, ‘why should I work for minimum wage when I can earn more selling drugs?’”
“In addition, witnesses also commented on the relative ease now of starting to deal in drugs.”
Drug gang members also become “role models” who fill a gap in the lives of troubled young children, a charity working with disadvantaged people told the council. The St Giles Trust cited the figure of £300 paid to young people targeted by gangs from other parts of the UK who used them to hold drugs or firearms – the so-called County Lines drug crime.
The charity said that gangs would “find out what is missing in a child’s life and they try to fill it – they will target young people who have difficult family lives”.
The evidence forms part of a report compiled for Cardiff council aimed at helping the local authority preventing young people from becoming involved.
The report included the results of a survey which found that 47% of people believed drugs issues had become worse in their area and that two thirds wanted the authorities to do more.
The scale of the problem was highlighted by the fact that one person said 4,500 needles had been found in the Lloyd George
Avenue area in Cardiff alone in one year.
Others said they believed there was a lack of enforcement to take on drug dealing “hotspots” in Cardiff.
There was also evidence of children and families witnessing drug taking, discarded needles and anti-social behaviour including defecation.
“Community witnesses called for more police, CCTV cameras and street lighting as ways to improve the current situation at community level,” a council report says.
Some called for a “zero tolerance” approach.
White males born in Wales were described as the biggest group of offenders but drug-related crime crossed all age ranges and backgrounds.
Councillor Saeed Ebrahim, chairman of the task group looking into young people involved in drug dealing, said he believed the council and its partners could take a “significant leap forward” in tackling the issue through the recommendations set out in the report.
In the report, he said: “It was important for us to identify what would drive a young person to become involved in drug dealing.
“This resulted in a very complex number of reasons, ranging from poverty and lack of opportunities to seeing it as a quick way to earn money and gain material goods.
“However, what was imperative was to keep in mind that these were still (in the main) vulnerable young people preyed upon and groomed by older people.
“Conversely, the inquiry also uncovered the fears and frustrations felt by communities having to witness and deal with drug-related activity and crime.
“The inquiry team felt that all communities deserved to live in a safe and healthy environment where drug dealing, taking and other related nuisance such as discarded needles should not be blighting their lives. Children should not have to witness this type of behaviour and see it as the ‘norm’ on their streets.”
The report sets out 19 recommendations on tacking the issue – from crime and enforcement, youth engagement and intervention, the involvement of different agencies to addressing the concerns of communities.
The council and its partners will be asked to review where drug related services are located and commit to thorough community engagement in areas of the city chosen for any proposed location for drug-related services such as needle exchanges.
The authority will also be asked to review its current youth provision and recognise the “crucial role” of these services to prevent young people’s involvement with drugs, and also develop a model for intervention and prevention.
Councillors will also call for the use of community facilities to be explored to give young people a place to go.
A review has also been recommended into the options available to young people who are excluded from school or on reduced timetables – with schools playing a key part in the review.
Awareness campaigns informing young people of the consequences of drug dealing, recognising grooming and where they can go for advice have also been recommended.
The Police and Crime Commissioner will also be asked to review the powers given to PCSOs.
The inquiry also calls for a city-wide youth survey to ascertain attitudes to drugs and related crime.
Cardiff council’s cabinet will be presented with the findings of the inquiry for consideration. WHAT DO YOU THINK? EMAIL [email protected] WALESONLINE.CO.UK
A resident of one street in Cardiff – Lloyd George Avenue – told the inquiry 4,500 syringes have been recovered from the area so far this year
Some young people become involved because of the perceived ‘cool factor’, the inquiry was told