Daily Express - 23.08.2019

(Kiana) #1

18 Daily Express Friday, August 23, 2019



By Michael Knowles
Home Affairs Correspondent

with this type of drugs operation is
that it’s specifically targeting very
young children in order to get them
to deal drugs.
“Some of the information we’ve
been passed is that children are not
only being coerced into this activ-
ity, but they’re also being physically
threatened. If they go to police or
teachers they’ll be harmed.” Police
are increasingly using modern

slavery laws to target drug dealers
so they are seen as “child abusers,
not gangsters” in prison.
Sgt Perry said drug dealers who
force children to sell deadly
substances could face 15 years
behind bars.
“You’ve got children being
exploited and young kids being
forced to run the drugs. The sheer
nature of the exploitation of these

young people is unacceptable. If we
don’t do something to stop that,
they’re potentially going to be at
risk for the rest of their lives.
“Unfortunately, those children
that are at risk now become the
suspects of tomorrow and we lose
them completely.
“They need that positive
engagement and we’re not going
to be able to do that until we

remove their handlers, for want of
a better word.”
Police chiefs say children being
exploited by gangs could be
spotted because they become more
withdrawn, secretive about their
possessions, and acquire cash and
clothes quickly.
Emma Leigh-Bennett, head
teacher of Kingsdown, said:
“Safeguarding children is our

School drugs gang

POLICE believe they have smashed
a school-based drug gang forcing
dozens of children to deal in
cocaine and cannabis.
They have arrested the alleged
ringleader amid fears a network of
up to 40 pupils – some as young as
14 – were selling drugs to
Two 16-year-old boys are said to
have supplied cocaine and cannabis
to the other children in the net-
work operating in the 1,200-pupil
secondary – creating the equivalent
of a dealer in every class.
Children at Kingsdown School in
Swindon were even given scales
and bags to measure out and sell
the narcotics.

Officers fear girls as young as 14
were pestered for sex in exchange
for cocaine, while others were
threatened with violence if they
went for help.
Wiltshire Police launched a dawn
raid on Wednesday and held a
27-year-old man on suspicion of
being concerned in the supply of
class B drugs. He was also arrested
on suspicion of inciting a child to
engage in sexual activity.
He has since been released but is
still under investigation and officers
raiding the property where he was
found are said to have discovered
Class B drugs.
Sergeant Nathan Perry, of
Wiltshire Police, said: “We all know
about County Lines and the risks
associated with that. The difficulty

Kingsdown school
where the gang is
alleged to have
operated. Right, head
Emma Leigh-Bennett

than doubled over the past
five years.
In Manchester, an 11-year-
old who had replaced a
highlighter nib with a blade
told another pupil: “Listen
to me or else I’ll stab you.”
Former teacher David
Simmons, who set up the
Changing Lives charity, said
he had been confronted by a
six-year-old brandishing a
knife while working in a
north London school.
“He said he’s going to
stab me and kill me,” he
recalled. “At that age? Why
were they doing that?”


A CHILD aged just four was
among more than 1,
pupils caught carrying
knives in schools last year.
Weapons seized by police
included machetes, hunting
knives, a samurai sword and
even a highlighter pen
which had its nib changed
to a blade.
Figures obtained by 5
News under Freedom of
Information laws show a
total of 1,144 knife
possession offences in
schools where the suspect
was a child were recorded in
England, Scotland and
Wales last year.
The number has more

By Henry Vaughan
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