I spent part of Friday afternoon discussing the possible incidence of drug dealing and use near one of the secondary schools in my constituency. I was told that this is quite common and that the minority who get involved with drugs can start out on a course which leads them to other crimes and to the grisly life of a young offender. Some also develop worrying mental health conditions which make leading a more normal life difficult.
Schools do co-operate with the police and with Social services. The problems are often concentrated in a small group of pupils. The issue can come to light through the usual informal gossip and intelligence that passes around playgrounds and public spaces. It may lead on to evidence in the form of CCTV footage showing transactions and drug taking as it occurs.
Good Heads or deputy Heads responsible for discipline can take action within their schools, to make sure the drug dealing and taking does not place on school property. If school punishments and warnings do not work then they have the opportunity to expel pupils who flout the law. The police need high standards of evidence before taking a case to court, but may be able to help with an interview or caution before the behaviour becomes entrenched.
Sometimes it requires team working with social services and the police with families that find it difficult to keep track of their teenagers and who are unable to exert sufficient family discipline to make sure drug taking is not part of their child’s activities.
I would be interested in hearing thoughts on this problem and on what more steps the authorities should take to stop drugs blighting young lives.