An information evening was held for young people, parents and professionals to raise awareness of the dangers of becoming involved with knife crime, gangs and county lines – with 140 attendees.
Hertsmere Community Safety Partnership organised the event in conjunction with local primary and secondary schools, which aimed to teach parents how to spot the signs that their child could be at risk of becoming involved in criminality.
Some of the powerful speakers included the parents of two men who were stabbed to death; Alison Cope, mother of Joshua Ribeira and Tracey Hanson, mother of Josh Hanson.
They were joined by Desmond Skyers and Dimitri Jordon, SOS+ Project Facilitators for St Giles Trust, a charity that helps the severely disadvantaged to find jobs, homes and the right support.
They spoke about the harsh realities of county lines, which is a term used to describe gangs and organised criminal networks involved in exporting illegal drugs into one or more areas within the UK, using dedicated mobile phone lines.
They explained how drug dealers identify young people, the grooming process and the young people’s roles within county lines.
They described the signs that young people display when they are involved in gangs and county lines, what parents should look out for, such as changes in their behaviour, use of new slang words and new friends that they may have met online.
Loran Kingston, Community Safety Intervention Officer, said: “Although Hertsmere is a safe place to live, we cannot afford to become complacent, especially with the violent crime being experienced in the neighbouring areas.
“It was great that so many people attended the awareness evening which provided vital information and will hopefully enabled parents to be more proactive and prevent their child from becoming involved in criminality”.
Sarah Kneller, head at Summerswood Primary School, said: “This event is an excellent example of local schools working together with other agencies and the wider community to keep our young people safe.
“We know there are dangers out there that our children face, but by arming parents with information, they then feel empowered to work with schools and the police to steer their children on a positive path.
“We are learning from the heart-breaking stories of others, how we can make changes to protect our community.”
Hertsmere Chief Inspector Steve O’Keeffe, of Hertfordshire Constabulary, said: “Drug and knife crime will not be tolerated in Hertsmere and it’s vital that parents work with us to help prevent their children from becoming involved in such crime. Becoming involved with crime at a young age can have a hugely detrimental effect on your future prospects.
“Hertsmere is generally a safe place to live and grow up in and our officers work hard day and night to make sure this is the case.
“I’d like to thank everyone who took the time to come along to this event. Remember, if you have any concerns around drug and knife crime in Hertsmere, you can get in touch with us on the non-emergency number 101. If a crime is in progress, always call 999.”
For more information about knife crime, gangs and drugs, visit www.stgilestrust.org.uk, www.crimestoppers-uk.org, www.alisoncope.com, www.nspcc.org.uk, www.thejoshhansontrust.org.
Alternatively, call Crimestoppers on 0800 555111.
A video is also available, providing information about the awareness evening.
Posted on Thursday 6th December 2018