Children learn about the dangers of drug gangs as part of National Safeguarding Week
CHILDREN have been learning about the dangers posed by drug gangs as part of a series of events organised by Vale of Glamorgan and Cardiff Councils to mark National Safeguarding Week.
The two Local Authorities have helped coordinate a full programme of talks and conferences taking place between Monday 12 and Friday 16 of November.
They cover subjects such as human exploitation, modern slavery and safeguarding in sport.
Another session was run by Dimitri Jordan, a former gang member who became involved in crime and clashes with other groups in London before turning his life around.
Dimitri delivered his talk at St Teilo’s Church in Wales School in Cardiff, during which he discussed the dangers of gangs and particularly the new phenomena of County Lines.
That term refers to the practice of drug gangs branching out from big cities to run operations in smaller areas.
“County Lines is like a cancer spreading and infecting different areas. It’s not just an issue for deprived areas, now it’s affecting people in affluent areas,” said Dimitri.
“Often, once they decide on a new location, gang members will hang around a pharmacy. There they will try to look for someone who is picking up methadone because that is a heroin substitute and that person may well be a drug addict.
“They will then follow that person home and take over the property by force or by offering the person drugs. They will then run that as a base for their operation. This is known as cuckooing. But it is not just drug addicts, they also target the vulnerable and the disabled because they are easy to manipulate.”
Local youngsters are commonly used as part of the operation to sell and transport drugs.
By raising awareness of this issue and shattering the myth that being involved in such activity is somehow glamorous, Dimitri hopes to prevent County lines taking root in local communities.
“These gangs recruit kids, sometimes as a young as 10, to help distribute their drugs and a lot of youngsters want to take part as they see gangs posing with money and glamorising the lifestyle on social media,” he added.
“There is also a human slavery element as often these children are promised money that doesn’t arrive Then they are told if they work another weekend they will get double the money after that.
“When I hear that a child has gone missing now, the first thing I think of is that it’s related to County Lines. That’s how big this problem is.
“There is no set way to deal with this problem. What I’m trying to do is deglamourise this way of life and make people aware of the dangers involved. Hopefully that will make them less likely to get mixed up in it.”
National Safeguarding Week aims to raise awareness of the different forms that abuse can take and emphasise that everyone has a role to play in spotting the signs of that abuse.