Warnings over the rise in teenagers carrying knives in Ipswich and link to drug-dealing
- Credit: Archant � 2008
One of Ipswich senior police officers has warned disaffected teenagers are showing a greater willingness to carry knives as they get sucked into drug-dealing.
Over the last few years the level of potential violence youngsters of school age are putting themselves at risk of has escalated.
The type of offences involved are of a more serious nature as a ‘Playstation’ type world appears to have become more and more ingrained.
Twinned with the glamorisation of the lucrative rewards from dealing drugs, the temptation to join the ‘Gangsta’ culture is proving too hard to resist for a growing number of boys and girls in their mid teens.
The phenomenon has spread out from the bigger cities.
Acting Chief Inspector Stuart Weaver, who has been a police officer for 22 years, said: “There’s been a sea change, probably over the last three or four years. We have seen a lot more involvement of youngsters in drugs.
“This goes right down to 13 to 14 year olds upwards.
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“We have done some work with schools to identify vulnerable children who are at risk of being brought into a gang or a drug-dealing culture.
“What we are seeing on the streets is more of a propensity for young children to carry weapons. It seems to be the norm for some young children to carry a knife.
“There appears to be little understanding about the consequences of their actions.
“Sometimes it is almost like they are living in a Playstation world. It’s almost like some sort of game, until something happens.
“We are seeing children being paid to purchase clothes. We see kids being given large amounts of money to deal drugs.”
Gangs from London send youths down to take over the flats or houses of vulnerable adults – a process known as cuckooing.
Ch Insp Weaver said: “The people who have taken it over and use it as a place for drug-dealing can be as young as 14 or 15 years old and that’s certainly a new situation for us.
“I don’t think there is a true understanding of what they are getting involved with.
“It’s also like a glamorisation of drugs with the kids.
“It is certainly linked to social media where gangs post videos.”
Sometimes one group will provoke another via the internet, leading to serious incidents.
The prospect of easy money plays a big part in luring youngsters in.
Attitudes to gaining employment in a world where the job scene has changed when children leave school underpins the thinking of those who are tempted.
Ch Insp Weaver said: “It’s like what’s the point in doing well at school when they can earn the money drug-dealing.
“A lot of them don’t see any future for themselves around employment.
“There is almost that giving up before they have started mentality.
“A lot want to earn that high-end dollar, but don’t want to start off being at the bottom.
“There is perhaps a lack of role models for some of these kids in the real world.
“The kids will respect someone who has come from nowhere and done it.”
On June 20 a 15-year-old boy and a 16-year-old boy were arrested on suspicion of arson with intent to endanger life and possession of a firearm with intent to cause fear of violence following an incident in Kelly Road, Ipswich.
“An 18-year-old was also arrested on suspicion of possession of a controlled drug with intent to supply.
All three were questioned and have been released under investigation while enquiries continue.
In February two 14-year-old’s were arrested after two alleged gunpoint muggings in Princes Street area and Old Foundry Road, Ipswich.
A large number of youths from Ipswich, London and elsewhere, including a 13-year-old boy, have been detained as part of Operation Woven, a police operation which began in March to crack down on serious violent crime relating to drug dealing in Ipswich.
In November last year an 18-year-old was shot in the shoulder in Siloam Place in what was believed to be a drug-related incident.
Today, Nelson Smith Jnr, of West Meadows is due to be sentenced to life imprisonment for the murder of Barry Street, 32, and Nathan Oakley, 18, at West Meadows last December. Both men were stabbed today by Smith Jnr, who was aged 17 at the time. The killings were not drug-related.