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Summit to explore how London drug lords are exploiting young people in Thanet

PUBLISHED: 12:18 17 July 2017 | UPDATED: 12:18 17 July 2017

Drug dealer

Drug dealer

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Craig Mackinlay met with the chair of a new young people-focused voluntary organisation this week

A summit exploring how young people in Thanet are being exploited by drug lords from the capital is set to be established.

Craig Mackinlay this week met with the chair of a new young people-focused voluntary organisation to discuss work being done to crack down on gang violence in the area.

Stephen Barr, of Breaking The Cycle, told the South Thanet MP of concerns about local provision, particularly in respect of the effective engagement of young people, and argued for a coordinated approach to working with young people at risk from, or entrenched in, local drugs markets.

There is anecdotal evidence of gang members from London boroughs and other key cities and towns in Kent grooming young people and vulnerable adults in Thanet into the distribution and supply of Class A and B drugs.

It is hoped that a Thanet Gangs and Youth Violence Summit can be organised that will enable Breaking The Cycle to start to build a clear picture of the seriousness of gangs and youth violence and look at an effective way forward through prevention, early intervention and enforcement activities.

Mr Mackinlay said: “Gangs and youth violence blight too many residents’ lives in Thanet.

“That’s why I wish to assist Breaking The Cycle’s work in this area and support the development of a Thanet Gangs and Youth Violence Summit which will explore some of the key underlying issues with respect to local young people and the local drug markets.

“Currently, Thanet is the only area within Kent that is part of the Home Office piloting of the government’s National Strategy in Ending Gang and Youth Violence.

“I know from my own experience as a JP that drug dealing leads to violent crime as local drug gangs seek to protect their market, sometimes through the use of weapons such as firearms and knifes.

“As South Thanet’s member of parliament, I will continue to work closely with Breaking The Cycle, as well as our local authorities who have responsibility for addressing anti-social and criminal behaviour, to help ensure that Thanet does not see the kind of escalation of youth and violent crime as experienced in areas of London.”

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