It was only this week that senior police officers were quoted in the press stating that there needs to be a review on the laws which govern the use of drugs.
This was followed by the news in Canada that recreational drugs are going to be legalised.
The underlying message to the public is that the so called `war on drugs` has been lost and there needs to be an honest debate about where we are as a nation and what may need to change.
The pro`s and con`s about legalising drugs will be mixed, depending on your own thoughts and perhaps experiences, however, this article will not venture into this debate, but reflect on the two previous articles I wrote about vulnerable people and how we can protect them, because whilst decisions may lead to change in the future, in the present we still have many vulnerable people who live in our communities and they need to support of the community and partner agencies to protect them from harm.
In relation to drugs, I mentioned previously that there are young people who will run the drugs and vulnerable people too, whose homes are used by drug networks to sell the drugs from.
Both these people are vulnerable; the young because of their age and others who are drugs addicts themselves and many will also have mental health problems.
These people are easily exploited. They become known to the drug networks because in the case of young people, they will not be at school or in education and others who will be drug users who will buy drugs, so they become known and it is their homes which will be needed to get a foothold in a community – the `county line` is then created.
Many of these people do not live in remote areas, but in out towns and on built-up housing estates.
Those who seek to use the homes of the vulnerable will normally do so with more than one person and there will be coming`s and going`s, either by people visiting to buy drugs, or more typically the runners going out to sell.
The relationship between the person whose home is used, and the runners will be unusual. Quite often the home of an adult will be used by young people. In addition, the people staying at the home will be unknown to the community before.
The change in activity, an association which does not look right and the fact there are strangers in a community are strong indicators that something is not right.
The first to know of this change are the residents nearby and this will be the case where a young person is seen to leave the town they live in on a regular basis and there is a pattern – this too will be a strong indicator that they may be involved in running drugs, especially if it is known they are not at school and use drugs themselves.
Other indicators with young people from poorer backgrounds is that they will have nice clothes, often brand names and expensive training shoes. This is because they are tempted into the networks by gifts.
We are often warned not to be stereotypical and although I agree with this generally, especially from a professional point of view, however, there is no harm in using this sensibly and being open minded.
If you see patterns or changes, report it; you are not being judgemental after all you are sharing a concern, and no-one can be criticised for that.
Concerns shared in this way will be looked in to. The police and housing providers can make enquiries or be aware of certain people or homes during their patrols and may see things for themselves which they can act upon.
It is community information that will help protect those most vulnerable in our communities and the information will be dealt with sensitively and confidentially.
If you are worried about giving your name, then please don`t forget that you can use the charity Crime stoppers to report, where your name will not be asked for, but the information will be passed to the relevant area.
Crime stoppers can be found on-line to make a report, or you can do so via phone on 0800 555 111.
Quite simply the people exploited live very poor lives and the risks they are exposed to are significant, ranging from the use or threat of violence to death, in the case where people overdose, which applies to the drug users too.
For these reasons, if you have a concern, don`t think you are interfering or getting involved in someone else`s business, report it – the lives of those most vulnerable are at risk otherwise.