Drugs wrecking young lives, says Axminster councillor

PUBLISHED: 07:01 24 August 2019

Drug dealers are targeting smaller communities across Devon, a councillor has warned. Picture DCP

Drug dealers are targeting smaller communities across Devon, a councillor has warned. Picture DCP

Archant

Drugs crime in East Devon is on the rise - threatening to wreck young lives.

Cllr Ian Hall.Cllr Ian Hall.

That's the warning from Axminster's Conservative county and district councillor Ian Hall.

He told The Herald: "Where once the problem of drug crime was mainly confined to the big cities, the gangs and criminal networks are spreading their tentacles into 'softer' target areas like Dorset and Devon.

"They are putting our youngsters at risk of becoming involved either as suppliers or as potential clients and addicts - or both.

"For the past four years I have been active both behind the scenes and within my immediate community at the eastern end of the district, learning about the problem and working with the police officers whose job it is to tackle it.

"It's left me in no doubt that it is a major threat to our young people and to the very fabric of our communities."

Cllr Hall said drug suppliers who once concentrated on major cities had devised a way to target less populated areas by using young, vulnerable people as drug runners - known as County Lines.

Around 10,000 youngsters are involved in it nationwide, he said.

Cllr Hall said: "Anyone exploiting a young person for criminal ends is ruining their lives by exposing them to intolerable risk.

"They're dragging them into criminality, which will have serious consequences for their life chances.

"I believe that only by working together can the police, local authorities and public turn the tide to ensure communities stand firm and therefore will refuse to let this incredibly destructive criminal activity to become normalised in any community.

"As a community, we need to come together and first of all understand that this is happening on our streets.

"Then we need to work together, as a matter of urgency, to do something about it.

"I will do everything in my power to drive awareness of this menace and help to manage the process of snuffing it out before it wrecks the lives of our young people and their families."

Cllr Hall believes the UK needs to look at other options for combating drug addiction - possibly adopting Portugal's example of treating it as a health issue rather than a criminal one.

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