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Published: 06:00, 21 February 2020
Sheppey is to lead the fight against drug dealers following the death of teenager Emre Huseyin.
In a desperate bid to stamp out youth crime, the Island is to get one of Kent’s first violence reduction units.
Emre, 15, died at home after being given a drug in Sheerness. Speaking shortly after the tragedy, Oasis Academy founder the Rev Steve Chalke said: “Oasis runs the most successful violence reduction unit in Britain, in Waterloo.
“We have visitors from all over the world coming to see what we do. It is quite clear the Island urgently needs something similar.”
He said changes were needed across the whole of society.
“At Waterloo, in London, we run a primary school, a secondary school, a library, a debt advice centre, a credit union, three football clubs and a patch of land we have turned into a farm. We all have to work together to stamp out the causes.”
He was talking to members of the Sheppey Community Development Forum at the Minster campus on Tuesday.
Mr Chalke said: “The government is about to start throwing money at this and Sheppey is in its sights. A violence reduction unit is coming to the Island.”
Although it is unlikely to have a physical presence all bodies will be encouraged to work together.
Oasis has also been given the contract to run Britain’s first ‘secure school’ taking over the former youth offenders unit at Rochester. Work is to start next month on rebuilding it.
Sgt Jason Hedges, who is in charge of Swale’s community officers, said: “There are county lines gangs operating on the Island which are using sophisticated techniques to lure youngsters as young as nine or 10 into drug running.
“When youngsters have no money but desperately want a special type of trainer it doesn’t take much for them to agree to drop a packet off for £50 cash. And then they are trapped.”
“The government is about to start throwing money at this and Sheppey is in its sights..."
He said tackling knife crime and the violence that comes with it is also a big priority.
Kent rehabilitation charity The Kenward Trust is running a campaign to Think Differently to fight drugs.
It includes demonstrations and real-life stories from recovering addicts.
The KM Group wants to help the charity raise £50,000 to expand its work. To donate click here.
To book a session, call 01622 814187, email email@example.com or visit thinkdifferentlykent.co.uk
More by this authorJohn Nurden