Overnight on Thursday just gone, North Wales Police here in Wrexham made about half a dozen arrests after executing several warrants, all concerned with the supply of class A drugs here in our town, namely cocaine and heroin.
The county lines drugs trade has flourished in recent years and the police have my absolute backing when it comes to cracking down on this industry which blights the lives of users, who become addicted to the point where little else in their lives matter; their families, who see their loved ones transform into someone unrecognisable; vulnerable young people who get coerced into joining criminal gangs and who are told to peddle these substances and use lethal force to remove the competition.
Drugs and crime blight countless lives. That is why I was pleased to have the opportunity to join the Ministry of Justice’s trial Employment Advisory Board (EAB) recently, focused on the rehabilitation of offenders in HMP Berwyn.
The idea behind the EAB is that the prison, MP, businesses and stakeholders come together to find and provide ex-offenders with employment opportunities with the aim of reducing reoffending. So far on the board there is the Governor of HMP Berwyn, James Timpson (CEO of Timpson’s), John Murphy (of Murphy Construction) and me.
Tackling crime is one of my six priorities for Wrexham and, given that the prison is on our doorstep, it couldn’t be more important to ensure that rehabilitated inmates have opportunities when they are released, so that they don’t simply walk out and get sucked back into the cycle of crime, which will harm not just them, but the town as a whole.
I will work to make a success of this pilot, so we can prove here that there is a model which can work across the United Kingdom.
Yes, prison must act as a deterrent to those considering crime, and must be a punishment for those who have done harm to others.
But ultimately prisoners will be released and at that point, we have to do all we can to ensure that they do not go on to cause more harm.
That is why rehabilitation must also be part of the mix and that is why we must experiment with new ways of improving the system.
I will always work to drive down crime in Wrexham. That means more police, more powers for them, encouraging a community that has zero tolerance towards antisocial behaviour and support for rehabilitated prisoners.