Craig Mackinlay MP has met with Stephen Barr, the Chair of Breaking The Cycle, a new young people-focused voluntary organisation formed by local people in Thanet.
The pair discussed research Breaking The Cycle have undertaken into young people in gangs with strong links to local drugs’ markets in Thanet. Mr Barr also raised his concerns about local provision, particularly in respect of the effective engagement of young people, and argued for a coordinated approach to working with young people at risk from, or entrenched in, local drugs markets which are the key drivers of youth gangs, violent crime and anti-social behaviour more generally.
There is anecdotal evidence of gang members from London Boroughs and other key cities and towns in Kent grooming young people and vulnerable adults in Thanet into the distribution and supply of Class A and B drugs.
It is hoped that a Thanet Gangs and Youth Violence Summit can be organised that will enable Breaking The Cycle to start to build a clear picture of the seriousness of gangs and youth violence and look at an effective way forward through prevention, early intervention and enforcement activities.
“Gangs and youth violence blight too many residents’ lives in Thanet.
“That’s why I wish to assist Breaking The Cycle’s work in this area and support the development of a Thanet Gangs and Youth Violence Summit which will explore some of the key underlying issues with respect to local young people and the local drug markets.
“Currently, Thanet is the only area within Kent that is part of the Home Office piloting of the Government’s National Strategy in Ending Gang and Youth Violence.
“I know from my own experience as a JP that drug dealing leads to violent crime as local drug gangs seek to protect their market, sometimes through the use of weapons such as firearms and knifes.
“As South Thanet’s Member of Parliament, I will continue to work closely with Breaking The Cycle, as well as our local authorities who have responsibility for addressing anti-social and criminal behaviour, to help ensure that Thanet does not see the kind of escalation of youth and violent crime as experienced in areas of London.”