Social media has massive impact of changing nature of crime Ipswich teens commit, say police

Police carry out a drugs raid on a flat (stock image)

Police carry out a drugs raid on a flat (stock image) - Credit: Staff

Ipswich’s most senior police officer has said he believes the growth of social media has had a massive impact on the types of crimes teenagers are prepared to commit.

Acting Superintendent Simon Mills

Acting Superintendent Simon Mills - Credit: Archant

Acting Superintendent Simon Mills began his career with Suffolk Constabulary 15 years ago. In the last few years he has seen youths gravitating towards committing more serious crimes than previous generations of youngsters.

His words come after Acting Chief Inspector Stuart Weaver warned of the increase in teenage boys carrying knives and getting involved in drug dealing.

Supt Mills said: “I think what young people are getting involved in now has evolved over the years.

“When I first joined it was more about anti-social behaviour, and there was the drinking culture, and low level drug use.”

Police carry out a drugs raid on a flat near Ipswich town centre.

Police carry out a drugs raid on a flat near Ipswich town centre. - Credit: Staff

Officers have seen the gang culture in America seeping into the consciousness of the teenagers and the problem spreading from the bigger cities such as London.

“Now it is pushing out into the smaller towns and cities”

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“Social media is heavily related to drug-related crime. Footage online and the ability to use various apps to communicate has glamorised the drugs scene, and it seems to have come to a head.”

There are many issues in today’s ever-changing world but Ch Insp Mills believes the primary ones stem from drug dealing, drug use and the networks of the groups involved.

It is not just boys who are drawn into that environment.

Ch Insp Mills said: “Girls are getting involved because it looks more glamorous with money freely being available and consequences of what is being asked gives some real safeguarding concerns”

The risks to teenagers have altered too, especially when they choose to carry knives or other weapons. Some see it as a status to carry weapons however it part of the gang culture is to show they are willing to use them.

“I think that has changed from how it was years ago. When I was a police sergeant we used to deal with the same individuals regularly for certain types of offences – burglaries, vehicle crime, theft from shops. We still see this but not in the same frequency as we did but the drugs related offences change rapidly with faces, names and hierarchy changing within these groups”

There has also been a change away from the traditional ways youths from previous generations spent their nights out.

Ch Insp Mills said: “We used to get youngsters aged 16 and 17 who were so keen to get into nightclubs or go out drinking, but that culture is not there anymore.

“It’s no longer about going out to get drunk. They are now seeing drugs, or being involved with those associated with drugs, as a way of doing what they do, when years ago they used to go out to try and get in to pubs and clubs.”

“In all honesty it’s about educating these youngsters and getting them to understand the consequences of their actions and what their involvement with these groups or gangs can lead.

“One example of where we are trying to work with partners to prevent the attraction to gangs is where youngster’s are caught doing things at school, whether it’s doing drugs or possession of a knife, and the school’s decision is to exclude them. This can push these children into the hands of gangs”

“What we are saying is don’t exclude them. We need to educate them in school. Don’t send them out on the streets.

“This is one option amongst many being used to mitigate the risk to our young persons.”

Last week Acting Ch Insp Weaver said: Inspector Weaver, said: “We have seen a lot more involvement of youngsters in drugs. What we are seeing on the streets is more of a propensity for young children to carry weapons.

“There appears to be little understanding about the consequences of their actions.”