It is a pleasure to follow Mr Lammy and to hear him explain the work he has done, as well as his experiences. I commend him for his knowledge of the subject and his contribution to trying to make things better.
This is a very timely debate, not because crime is increasing or decreasing in Erewash nor, I hasten to add, because we see serious violent crime in Erewash, but because there appears to be an increase in the use of cheap synthetic cannabis in our market towns as well as in our cities and because it appears be so invasive. The issue has been highlighted to me by my constituents over recent weeks, as they have shared their concerns about visible drug dealing, mainly in synthetic drugs such as Mamba and Spice, and the resulting zombie state that is so distressing for my constituents to see, especially when young children see it as well.
It is completely unacceptable that the day-to-day lives of residents are being disrupted by people taking drugs. I have personally spoken to the local police inspector. As a result, the presence of uniformed police patrols has increased in the area where it is happening. I would like to take this opportunity to commend my police officers across Erewash for their work, not just on this issue but day in, day out tackling everything that comes up. They never know what will be around the next corner.
Sadly, many of those who targeted by the dealers are those who are the most vulnerable. I am also concerned that the dealing and use of drugs can so readily lead to more serious crimes. That is why I welcome the serious violence strategy published by the Government last year, in particular the action to tackle county lines, which other hon. Members have spoken about, and the misuse of drugs. I look forward to the Minister, in responding to the debate, providing an update on the progress being made to tackle the county lines issue. Work on intervention and prevention is vital if we are to get a grip on the pervasive use and abuse of drugs. For too many young people, their involvement in county lines and the resulting involvement in violence has, as we have heard, resulted in lives being lost and young people being seriously injured in gang attacks.
On a recent visit to one of the hospitals that serves my constituency, the Queen’s Medical Centre in Nottingham, I was able to see at first-hand the work of the charity Redthread, which is supported by the Home Office. It runs a youth violence intervention programme in the hospital’s emergency department, in partnership with the major trauma network. It is having a real impact, changing young people’s lives and moving them away from crime.
Redthread and other such charities provide the evidence that if we are to be successful in tackling all types of crime, we must understand that partnership working has the most success. It is not just about what the police do; it is also about collaboration with a wide range of statutory bodies and agencies. It is only by working together that low-level and more serious crime and violence will be tackled effectively.