'Dangerous County Lines drugs gangs are coming into Harborough and grooming our children' says council leader
He is urging parents to 'wake up and wise up now' to the dangers
Harborough council leader Phil King is urging parents to “wise up” now as he warned that teenagers and young people in Market Harborough are being “groomed” by notorious County Lines drugs gangs.
Cllr King appealed to families to pull out all the stops to keep children safe after a wave of anti-social behaviour and trouble in parks as well as on the streets in the town over the last few weeks.
The worried Conservative council chief is issuing his stark warning just days after Keiran Silcott, 21, was stabbed in the chest and leg in a shocking attack in Market Harborough on Saturday night.
“Parents in Market Harborough – as well as elsewhere in our district – have got to wake up now and wise up now.
“In a nutshell we have dangerous County Lines drugs gangs coming into Market Harborough putting young people at very serious risk,” Cllr King told the Harborough Mail.
“Young people need to be very careful.
“Kids are getting hooked on drugs at such a young age – and they are evil and pernicious.
“Drugs destroy lives.
“I was shocked to the core as we all were when the young man was stabbed here in the middle of Market Harborough at the weekend.
“We don’t know anything about the circumstances of that extremely violent attack yet.
“But I do know that we have a real problem with criminals targeting and grooming vulnerable, naïve teenagers in our town.
“These are not innocent youths sitting around enjoying a beer or two in our parks,” declared Cllr King.
“There are serious actors here sucking our young people into a frightening, sinister world of drugs and criminal activity.
“Parents are being hoodwinked and lulled into a false sense of security.
“Big parties involving a lot of drink as well as drugs in parks such as Little Bowden rec in Market Harborough and Warwick Park in Kibworth don’t just happen off the cuff.
“They are highly-coordinated, organised events set up by the wicked people behind the drugs gangs,” insisted the district council leader and county councillor.
“People should be under no illusions – these are not random events.
“I understand that young people particularly are frustrated and bored after over a year of lockdowns.
“Go out and have fun by all means.
“But don’t go out and get pulled into this dark menacing world of drink and drugs – because it will wreck your life.
“And young people have to tell the police – anonymously through Crimestoppers if needs be – who the criminals are so that they will be taken out of circulation and face justice.
“My message to parents in Market Harborough and beyond is simple.
“Do you know what your children are doing?
“Do you know if they are getting sucked into using drugs – and helping to do the dirty work for the despicable criminals who run infamous County Lines gangs?
“Our police are doing the best job they can I’m sure.
“But my sense is that people want to see police officers out and about more in our community to have full confidence in them,” said Cllr King.
“I will be meeting our new police inspector here shortly.
“I’m looking forward to sitting down and talking to him about this whole situation.
“But this starts with the individual and their family.
“They have to take responsibility for their own actions and behaviour.
“Parents have to step up and be counted.
“Anti-social behaviour and drugs were with us before the Covid pandemic started, they’re not new threats,” said Cllr King.
“But the problem has accelerated.
“I’ve seen teenagers vomiting in the streets of Kibworth and being sick all over the place at 6 and 7 o’clock on an evening.
“They are already dead drunk.
“That’s not acceptable – and their families must know their kids are rolling home drunk.
“We as a council have to unite with the police and the community to crack down hard on this growing problem posed by drink and drugs.”
Cllr Phil Knowles, who leads the Liberal Democrats on Harborough council, told the Mail: “There certainly appears to have been an increase in drugs and drinking along with bad behaviour culminating in the young man being stabbed in Market Harborough on Saturday night.
“We have to look at the level of policing in the town.
“Have we got enough police officers here patrolling our beautiful market town?
“We certainly need more police visibility, more officers on our streets.
“We as a council also need to look at setting up more CCTV cameras in high-profile troublespots such as Little Bowden park and Symington’s rec,” said Cllr Knowles.
“Both mobile and static cameras will help deter crime – and help bring criminals to book by nabbing them in the act.
“Young people being swept up in this tide of drink, drug-taking and dealing and fighting have got to confide in their parents.
“What ever you do – don’t go down the lethal path of drug abuse and crime, it will ruin your life.
“It’s a chilling thought that this young man knifed in Market Harborough the other night could have lost his life the other night.
“It’s only by the grace of God that he wasn’t seriously injured.
“It’s too devastating to think about.
“We are reaching a tipping point in Market Harborough,” said Cllr Knowles.
“And this stabbing has got to be a serious wake-up call for each and every one of us.
“People are increasingly frightened and we all need to unite to make our glorious market town safe once again.”