Drug Crime

Part of the debate – in Westminster Hall at 3:26 pm on 20th April 2022.

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Photo of Jim Shannon Jim Shannon Shadow DUP Spokesperson (Human Rights), Shadow DUP Spokesperson (Health) 3:26 pm, 20th April 2022

I thank Robbie Moore for setting the scene. We have been here before, discussing this issue, and have heard the stories before, but I congratulate him on his endeavours to highlight the issue. He referred to a police seizure in the past few weeks, which is some evidence of how well the police are doing.

Robin Millar referred to westerns. I am a wee few years older than the hon. Gentleman. The great thing about a western on a Sunday afternoon was that the good guys were Gary Cooper and John Wayne, they always beat the baddies, they did it in an hour and a half, and they walked off with the woman at the end. It was always great, but life is not like that, as we know. In Keighley or anywhere else, we have to deal with the reality.

In Northern Ireland, we have a similar difficult problem. I have looked into the stats, and it does not matter whether it is alcohol, cocaine, cannabis, diazepines or Pregabalin, these issues affect my constituents every day. There is a drugs epidemic.

The Police Service of Northern Ireland are targeting my local area. I met the new superintendent, Johnston McDowell, just before Easter, along with some local councillors, and one of the main topics was getting the drugs out of the community. There was a successful sting operation in March, which is only the start of things to come, according to the PSNI. I am encouraged by my police and their response, by my inspector and his attitude. I welcome their commitment.

The scourge of drugs and the harm in my local area cannot be overstated. I have spoken to young mothers who are breaking their hearts as their sons are caught up owing drug money, and are then strong-armed into our version of gangs and paramilitary groups to pay off their so-called debt. It is an age-old story. They start with a bit of weed and it all progresses from there, into drug usage that they cannot sustain. That is why I am personally opposed to the reclassification of cannabis, unless it is under prescription for specific medical needs. I have seen too many promising boys and girls lose their way due to the cesspit of drugs in the community.