“Do we really want metal detectors in our schools and security guards at the school gates like they have in the United States?” That was the question Police and Crime Commissioner, Jason Ablewhite faced when asked about the growing problem of youth knife crime and drug-dealing in our area.
Talking at his ‘monthly surgery’ at Wisbech Police Station, P&CC Ablewhite admitted the public is increasingly concerned about knife attacks. He said: “They are quite rightly worried about the levels of heroin and cocaine becoming readily available in our area, and the numbers of youths carrying knives for ‘protection’.
“I realise how hard it is sometimes to explain the misery of drug addiction when it is seemingly all around our children. “Imagine how hard it must be for our educators and the police to explain to a 13 or 14 year-old that drug-taking is wrong when they go home and find mum and dad sitting on the sofa smoking marijuana. That’s the level of the problem we have to deal with.
“I don’t want our schools to be patrolled by security guards and have metal-detectors at the school gates like they do in America, but we have to find a way to explain to our young people, so that they understand carrying an illicit weapon is simply not okay, and that drug-dealing is wrong and leads to nothing but misery.
“Luckily we live in communities where violence with a weapon is rare; but I want re-educate young people to think about what they are doing when they carry a knife or are tempted to take drugs, or worse, to deal in drugs.
“We have to start with the youth and work our way upstream from there. Nobody says it will be easy, but just look at the alternatives. I don’t think anybody wants that.
“We want to continue to spend money to build covert programmes to tackle the problem - over £17m was spent last year on that type of operation. Sometimes just putting more police officers on the streets is not the answer to the problem - even though at first that might seem to be the solution.
“We have formed teams of covert officers who are tackling the drug problem from the shadows, because that’s where the dealing is going on. I can tell the people of Cambridgeshire that we will not relax in our war on drugs and youth knife-crime: we are winning, and we are hurting those people who chose to deal drugs on the streets of our communities; but in order to win the war, I need help from every citizen.
“More than 95% of our convictions come from information that originates from the public. We need the people in our communities to keep a vigil, keep records, video, audio and let the police know if crime is being committed where you are. I cannot do anything unless I have the community working with me to tackle community-crime”.