Drug Crime

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

Alert me about debates like this

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

I am sorry—Mr Pritchard was clear on times, and I have less time than everybody else.

It is as a community that we can and must defeat the scourge. The difficulty in the community is the sense of fear about passing on information—that “the boys will find out”. Families live in fear and feel unable to stand up; they watch helplessly as their children are dragged into the darkness of gang warfare.

I get very angry, as I have had sobbing mothers in my office, telling me that their sons are being coerced into drug running. When I ask for names, they cannot give them, because they are afraid. I have given assurances that information passed on to the PSNI is strictly anonymous, but there is a lack of trust in the PSNI.

I have discussed the need for visible community policing that builds up relationships, as a key element of any war on drugs. When the community know and trust their local police, it can make all the difference. That is why we need to go back to the days of the local bobby who knows the names and is there to protect, not to prosecute. I am of that generation. Too many lives are lost, too many hearts are broken and too many fortunes are being made off the backs of drug abuse in the communities. It is past time that we took our community spirit and safety back into our own hands.

I know the Minister does not have responsibility for Northern Ireland, but my stories are similar to everybody else’s. We need the police, social workers and youth workers all to be on the same page, doing their job and giving young people options and support to resist and beat the scourge of drugs in our society—the biggest and deadliest challenge that we face today. Thank you for the time you have given me, Mr Pritchard; I have worked well within your confines.