UK

Home Secretary PRITI PATEL: I won’t stand by while evil criminal drug gangs exploit our children

Drugs ruin lives. They are a scourge on our society, fuelling violence and crime. They destroy relationships, families and communities, the misery they spread is untold.

Almost 3,000 people in England and Wales died last year from drug misuse. That’s more than all knife crime and road accidents combined.

Drugs are a major driver of crime. Abusers steal to fuel their habit and the substances are a major factor in murder and other violent offences.

The criminal drug trade is run by dangerous people whose evil has no limits. They have for years exploited and abused vulnerable children to peddle their substances and enslave them into their deadly networks. Children as young as seven are being used to deliver drugs by these sickening gangs.

As Home Secretary, I will not stand by while such dehumanising exploitation and criminality takes places.

Writing in the Daily Mail today, Priti Patel warns that repeat offenders could even be placed on home curfews

That is why this government is putting more police on the streets, with over 11,000 more officers already out in communities across the country.

They are better funded, trained with the tools and resources needed to crackdown on drugs and these gangs to make our communities safer.

And our approach is working – there has been a 14 per cent fall in overall crime, excluding fraud and computer misuse, in the last two years.

Our county lines programme has seen over 1,500 deal lines shut down, over 7,400 arrests made, and more than 4,000 vulnerable adults and children safeguarded. However, we must go further.

Today, the Government is publishing a ten-year drugs strategy. Our focus is on reducing crime, saving lives, and sending a clear message to the criminals – if you peddle these substances across our community, we will come after you with the full force of the law.

Boris Johnson yesterday said the Government’s ten-year drugs strategy would aim to turn the tide on the vile trade that is ‘killing kids’ (File image)

This also means smashing the drug supply chains and criminal networks.

Thanks to the fantastic efforts of our National Crime Agency and policing, drug supplies are being seized before they even hit our shores.

Just last month, the National Crime Agency seized 418kg (922lb) of cocaine found in a lorry with a street value of £33million.

The strategy also involves shutting down the gangs, seizing the money and assets from their despicable crimes and locking them up. Working with the police, we want to shut down over 2,000 county lines in the next three years.

By breaking the cycle of crime, we will support treatment and recovery for drug addicts.

We will work in schools on prevention to intervene early, and support young people and families who are vulnerable and in need of help.

And, when drug misusers are sentenced, they will be referred into treatment, as will prisoners after their release.

As we work to cut and reduce the demand for drugs, we will impose tougher sanctions for those who break the law. This means tougher penalties for those so-called ‘recreational’ users, such as students who ignorantly take drugs with no thought to the criminality they are supporting and those they are exploiting.

Their actions are directly leading to an increase in violent crime and people dying – but they pay no price.

That will change. We will bring down the harshest possible legal sanctions and consequences for these users, including criminal sanctions, fines, curfews, compulsory drug- awareness courses and the removal of their passports.

It is a fact that certain people are more likely to fall into the drugs trap than others.

It is a sad truth that misuse is rife among those who are homeless, and it is also more frequent in northern cities, seaside towns and central London boroughs. It is in everyone’s interests that we beat the problem.

For the first time in decades, every aspect of the state is coming together to tackle both crime and drugs.

Central government, local government, the police, prisons and probation services, the courts, the education system, the health sector – everyone. We all want to beat this problem and help save lives.

This is a national fight, where we will go after the criminals while supporting those who need our help to come off drugs and turn their lives around.


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