Darren Oxbrow is a Sergeant in the Suffolk Constabulary, heading up the C & YP and Schools Engagement team. In the first of a regular series of articles written by the Team, Darren gives a brief overview of the problems of substance misuse that we in society and within our own neighbourhoods, need to address. We want to create debate with young people and show that the Police are an active community partner; both looking to find solutions, but open to views and ideas from the public.
The use of harmful illegal substances continues to be a threat to our young people, as law enforcement agencies and other organisations try to stem the flow; in respect to both the increased use and the increased availability of such substances on our streets.
Various strategies are put in place, but it’s trying to find a solution to a very complex problem which is worth millions to the barons and dealers across the world, but also costs millions for those trying to prevent and deal with the after effects of entrenched usage.
Within Suffolk, we have seen and witnessed some disturbing trends developing which have been highlighted within a recent report delivered by the local Authority. It identifies a growing concern around increased gang activity, which threatens our communities around the fear of increased criminal activity linked to violent crime and exploitation of our young.
The Police response has to be one, which incorporates a multi-agency approach in order to have the right resources and professionals on board; to ensure that it has effective and productive outcomes – whether that is around the arrest and prosecution of suspects, or the prevention, intervention programmes to deter those young people at risk or on the periphery of crime and gang involvement.
In order to have a strategy that works, we need to understand the complexities of not just our local drugs market but the wider picture, which goes all the way back to the fields in South America where the vast amount of these drugs are produced and harvested.
There is clearly a commodity here that reacts to demand and supply and like any business, if the demand is large enough, then individuals will continue to be prepared to flood our streets with these products.
Enforcement of the law alone will not stop the problem, so we need to ensure that within Suffolk we have various strands to our strategy which incorporate; prevention work, interventions and alternative activities – which include supportive and recuperative avenues.
Yes, a strong message should go out from Police that we will not tolerate Drugs in our county and we will pursue and disrupt those who think they can come into our County and supply our young people with such substances.
Our community needs to support the positive action of all agencies and look to provide information and intelligence where they can, to assist and promote the message that drugs are not to be tolerated.
Our schools need to have drug policies which are effective and reflect consistent views, with appropriate and proportionate discipline measures in place to deal with those who are supplying and those who are using substances.
Parents and families need to seek advice and guidance and educate their children about the dangers of drugs; to be aware of their children’s associations and friends and to take an interest in their behaviours.
We know that we all need to pull together if we have any chance of turning this evil away and to have communities who are proud to be drug free, but it requires a multi-agency approach where we all support each other with a consistent and loud message:
Suffolk will not tolerate drugs on its streets and within its schools.
The cost to the local economy, I suggest, is big and will continue to increase and it is therefore in the interest of us all that we do all we can to prevent this escalating further.