£300 FOR CITY KIDS TO STASH GUNS

SHOCK­ING TRUTH OF YOUTH DRUG GANGS EX­POSED

South Wales Echo - - Front Page - MATT DISCOMBE Lo­cal Democ­racy Re­porter [email protected]­line.co.uk

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

PIC­TURE POSED BY MOD­ELS

Some young peo­ple be­come in­volved be­cause of the per­ceived ‘cool fac­tor’, the in­quiry was told

FILE PIC­TURE

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.