By Eve White
Walkley and Hillsborough police are working hard to reduce drug pushing which they say can lead to wider issues like human trafficking and modern day slavery.
According to the government website, approximately 1.3 million Brits aged 16 to 24 admitting to have taken drugs in 2020.
Sheffield North West police recognised the urgent need for intervention. The team recently dealt with mass production of cannabis when 22-year-old Georgios Gkorari was found to have been growing the Class B drug with a street value of around £100,000.
Gkorari was growing cannabis in a property on Barber Street up until his arrest on September 16, resulting in him serving a two-year sentence.
PC Max Jackson, who had a hand in Gkorari’s arrest, said this had been a fantastic result for the local community: “This is the latest of several convictions the team has been involved in and more than £5 million worth of cannabis has been seized in just 18 months.”
The Walkley and Hillsborough officer also expressed his wider concerns, as many police forces within Sheffield are teaming up to take down drug gangs: “Human trafficking and modern-day slavery are a huge problem as gangs are exploiting the vulnerable to either sell, traffic or produce drugs.”
Whether gangs are human trafficking as another source of income or using people to smuggle drugs on their behalf, it seems this problem is common. According to the National Referral Mechanism, 2,864 people in the UK were referred to them regarding modern slavery between January and March of 2020 alone.
It seems that these issues have also been brought to the attention of PM Boris Johnson as the government published its 10-year drugs plan ‘to cut crime and save lives’ earlier this month.
The document details Johnson’s willingness to spend £300 million to bring county lines ringleaders to justice and a further £780 million on rebuilding the drug treatment system.
PC Jackson had mixed feelings about the proposal, more specifically concerning the tougher sentences for offenders. He felt as though dealers would be intimidated by this but thinks the fear will be minimized by peer pressure: “A lot of drug dealers are very young and wouldn’t necessarily acknowledge or understand what these sorts of punishments actually mean.”
If you have information of any of the type of crimes mentioned in this article, please contact your local police.