Overcast

Overcast

max temp: 16°C

min temp: 14°C

Search

Shocking new study reveals children as young as 12 are distributing Class A drugs in Ipswich

PUBLISHED: 00:38 04 September 2017 | UPDATED: 15:16 04 September 2017

A police officer on patrol in Jubilee Park, Ipswich
. Picture: ARCHANT

A police officer on patrol in Jubilee Park, Ipswich . Picture: ARCHANT

Archant

A new study has put the scourge of drug gangs in Ipswich under the spotlight - where children as young as 12 are recruited to distribute heroin and crack cocaine around the town.

The Nacton or Q-Block gang is said to operate in the Queens Way area of Ipswich. Picture: ARCHANTThe Nacton or Q-Block gang is said to operate in the Queens Way area of Ipswich. Picture: ARCHANT

The research identifies ‘county lines’, drug routes from metropolitan areas such as London, Birmingham and Liverpool, where class A drugs are brought into the town.

These drugs are then distributed by groups of local young people, vulnerable youths recruited by metropolitan gang members.

The University of Suffolk study, led by Dr Paul Andell, senior lecturer in criminology, and visiting lecturer of criminology Professor John Pitts, identifies two main gangs in Ipswich – J-Block, based around Jubilee Park, and the Nacton or Q-Block gang, based around Queens Way.

The study, commissioned by Suffolk County Council, says both groups appear to have ‘familial or friendship links’ with gang members in London.

Queens Way, Ipswich. Picture: ARCHANTQueens Way, Ipswich. Picture: ARCHANT

It reads: “It is estimated by the agencies involved in face-to-face work with young people in these areas that the number of identifiable ‘gang members’ is 66, although the actual number may be considerably more.”

It continues: “The young people who deliver the drugs, like the gang-involved children and young people who deliver them in and around Ipswich, are typically aged between 12 and 17.”

These gangs have recently become more violent as postcode ‘turf wars’ break out, contributing to the recent rise in violent crime in the town.

Professor Pitts said there had been a change in the way drug markets operated in recent years due to the falling price of heroin and crack cocaine and the purity of these drugs rising, leading metropolitan drug gangs to branch out as inner-city markets become ‘saturated’.

He said: “What I think we have seen in Ipswich is something different again - that we have the county lines and younger people bringing them up but now you have a distribution network which draws upon very socially disadvantage local young people.

“There are risks of violence, there are risks of being drawn into forms of violence which would get them very, very long sentences because we are talking about grievous bodily harm, in a couple of cases we are talking about murder.”

The study reveals the recent upsurge in gang related violence is a result of a ‘perfect storm’ of shrinking youth services, erosion of job opportunities and lack of accommodation for young people in care.

It says young people are often ‘throwaway kids’ stuck in the care system who ‘find a home they are denied in the conventional world in a street gang’. Another shocking revelation was the number of girls and young women being exploited through gang

culture.

Professor Pitts said: “They are involved as, sometimes, partners of relatively high status gang members, sometimes they are girls, they call them ‘links’, who are passed around, very young girls aged 12, 13 or 14.

“But also there is some evidence of commercial sexual exploitation and we have heard of groups of very young girls being trafficked back into London.

“Girls are also used to transport drugs, carry money, carry guns sometimes.”

What is being done to tackle the problem?

Suffolk County Council, Ipswich Borough Council and Suffolk Constabulary have pledged to work together to stamp out drug gang culture in Ipswich.

Sue Cook, the county council’s corporate director for children and adult services, set out three pillars of the multi-agency plan.

First is reducing vulnerability - helping people to build their resilience so they are less vulnerable to being exploited.

Second, creating an environment where violence cannot grow or thrive.

Third, enforcement – taking action against those who seek to exploit others and who orchestrate criminal activity.

The council has identified funding for a dedicated manager to lead the work, has put in place community development officers to work in the areas affected and secured extra funding for diversionary activity.

It is also hosting a number of engagement events to find out what communities think should be done to tackle the problem:

South East Area Committee

Wednesday September 6 2017, 7pm

Murrayside Learning Centre, Nacton Road, Ipswich IP3 9JL

Central Area Committee

Wednesday September 13, 7pm

Ipswich Community Church, Clarkson Street, Ipswich IP1 2JP

North West Area Committee

Thursday September 14, 7pm

St Raphael Club, St Raphael Court, Highfield Road, Ipswich IP1 6DA

North East Area Committee

Tuesday September 19, 7pm

St John’s Church Hall, Cauldwell Hall Road, Ipswich IP4 4QE

South West Area Committee

Thursday September 21, 6.30pm

Stoke Green Baptist Church, Halifax Road, Ipswich IP1 8RE

Related articles

A Suffolk father whose flight from Madrid was cancelled by Ryanair at just a week’s notice because the company messed up its pilots’ rota has had to fork out hundreds of pounds so he can still take his son to see their favourite football team play.

Mystery surrounds the return of Christchurch Park’s most famous feathered friend as several reported sightings of Mabel prompted a community group to celebrate her arrival.

Plans to regenerate a derelict former industrial site off Hadleigh Road in Ipswich with more than 120 homes have been given the green light.

When Ipswich brewers Tolly Cobbold went on the expansion trail in the 1930s they built some rather grand pubs, in Ipswich and beyond, in a mock baronial style.

A quarter of girls and one in 10 boys show signs of depression at the age of 14, new research has revealed.

Suffolk’s largest teachers’ union has welcomed the scrapping of national curriculum tests for seven-year-olds, describing them as a “waste of time”.

National noodle bar chain Chopstix is set to open in Ipswich soon as set-up work is underway at the Sailmakers shopping centre.

An Ipswich man who kicked down his former partner’s front door and slashed her bed, mattress and sofa has been jailed for 12 months.

Vibrantly dressed models brought a splash of autumn colour to the catwalk at a sold out fashion show set on collecting thousands of pounds for a Suffolk based charity.

The Kesgrave fireworks night will be returning to Kesgrave High School this November after the success of last year’s event.

Most read

Show Job Lists

Topic pages

Newsletter Sign Up

Sign up to receive our regular email newsletter
MyDate24 MyPhotos24