Drug danger for locked down youths

Report uncovers surge in youngsters involved in dealing and taking prescription medication

Friday, 24th September 2021 — By Helen Chapman


POLICE say they have seen a rise in youngsters taking and dealing “prescription” drugs since the first lockdown last year.

A child protection report, discussed at this week’s council children’s scrutiny meeting, points towards an upward trend in young people handling large amounts of xanax and diazepam.

The report says: “It is a significant concern that it appears young people are also taking the drugs alongside being exploited to deal them. Some young people have had to be hospitalised due to taking these drugs.

“Young people and families do not understand the medical impact of taking this sort of medication without a prescription, and when it is mixed with alcohol and other drugs.”

The report noted how the pandemic affected the ability to notice the patterns and be able to attribute them to the effects of the Covid-19 lockdowns or the changing nature of exploitation.

It states that for large periods of the year it was more difficult for organised crime groups to get drugs in and out of the country and there was a belief that this would reduce the need to exploit young people to run drugs. However, the police and social services have noticed young people running drugs were more obvious on transport and out in the community, so were coming to the attention of the police when before they would possibly have gone undetected.

From April 2020 to March this year, 32 young people under 18 were identified as at risk of serious youth violence and 43 young people aged between 18 to 24. A large proportion of young people considered at risk of serious youth violence in Islington are black.

Laura Eden, director of safeguarding at the council, said at the meeting: “There are lots of plans around responding to children and young people at risk of county lines and serious youth violence and exploitation.

“That includes anything from targeted youth and how preventative measures need to take place and do take place and can be enhanced in different wards in the primary.

“The Transitions project, for example, in certain hotspots in the borough has been really successful from going through primary school, Year 6 to Year 7, working with those children who could be at risk of future exploitation or serious youth violence.

“In my service there is a particular team set-up called the Adolescent Support Intensive Intervention project which is working with a core cohort of children who are at risk of exploitation and at risk of coming into care and providing really intensive wraparound interventions 20 hours a week per family to try and ensure they don’t come into care, as we know that doesn’t solve all of their issues and improve their outcomes.”

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