#MerryMuletide campaign shows grim reality of party drugs market

Published Friday, 7th December 2018

Party goer in the act of drug taking

Just a bit of festive fun? Southend-on-Sea Borough Council has once again teamed up with Essex Police, to produce a campaign to help disrupt local drugs and county lines activity.

#MerryMuletide is a hard-hitting follow-up campaign to the recent #SeeTheSigns, with a message that alerts recreational drug users to the catastrophic consequences their drug taking is having on the lives of local children.

In order to get drugs, including ‘party drugs’, to those who take them, a supply chain of violence, grooming and modern slavery is established. Local children are being targeted right now, purely to move drugs and money through our borough, up and down to London and beyond.

Councillor Mark Flewitt, cabinet member for public protection says, “Recreational drug users may not realise the effect their drug-taking has on local children. They may care about the plastic they use, and how much they recycle. They probably try to buy locally produced products and want British farmers to be paid a fair price for their goods. But, if they’re tempted to perk up a Friday night party, many don’t know about the young children forced into working for violent gangs that supply their drugs.

“This campaign is purposefully uncomfortable to look at, but it has to be to get this message across. Many of those who take these drugs have no idea about devastating effect they have on the lives of those caught up in the supply chain.”

Councillor Helen Boyd, cabinet member for children and learning says, “Worse than just being ‘couriers,’ local children are purposefully targeted by criminal gangs, tricked into carrying small packages, and then opened up to a world of extreme violence and control. They are often sent miles from home, made to stay in squalid conditions and even forced to commit acts of violence themselves. They are set up on trains to be robbed of the money they’re carrying, so feel indebted to these criminals and unable to leave. More and more we are seeing criminal gangs target children across all towns, socio-economic backgrounds, and ages. Children as young as 12 years old are being used to traffic drugs around and in and out of our borough.

“It is vital we open our eyes to this grim reality, and work together to protect our children. The children targeted are from a variety of backgrounds, and wherever you live or work they could be your family, your neighbour, or your friend’s or colleague’s children. Please think about them if you’re ever tempted to buy drugs.”

Chief Inspector Neil Pudney, District Commander for Southend said: “People who take recreational drugs probably don’t even bother to consider where those substances come from.

“But they need to know that those drugs come from a supply line that undoubtedly involves exploitation and violence.

“Gangs use violence against their drug dealing rivals, they use violence and exploitation against younger members to force them into couriering drugs and money and against vulnerable addicts and members of the community.

“So while people are out having a ‘good time’, that ‘good time’ has probably resulted in violence, pain, fear and exploitation for someone else.

“Please think about what you’re doing and ask yourself if you really want to play a part in the cycle of violence and exploitation.”

How can you help?

The council and police are asking the public to help remove the market for these drugs. Don’t buy, sell or take drugs, however “low-key” or “harmless” you believe them to be. Don’t be a link in the chain that directly puts our children in dangerous situations.

If you have any information and can help us get to the people who are organising these gangs, where they operate etc, then please send a message to SeeTheSigns email address . Your help could save our local children’s lives.

We have a dedicated and highly trained team of professionals who can use your information to stop this at its source.