The UK is one of the biggest consumers of cocaine in Europe.
The true costs of cocaine use are significant and far reaching, from child exploitation and other criminality, to health and environmental. We understand that most people don’t see the awful things we see so it’s our duty to shine a light on these costs.
Not everyone who takes cocaine knows the reality of how it is produced and supplied. We are providing the facts so you can make informed choices for yourself.
Is there a typical cocaine user?
There is no typical user of cocaine; users can include manual workers as well as young couples, secure families and older couples in the suburbs. However, not everyone is taking cocaine; 93% of adults, surveyed by the Home Office, thought it was never acceptable to take cocaine.
What's the scale of cocaine use in the Thames Valley?
There are currently a number of active organised crime groups involved in the supply of cocaine in Thames Valley. This means there is a demand for the drug which must be supplied via a network of organised crime groups. In recent years, awareness of county drugs lines has grown due to media interest. This type of organised crime is a breeding ground for wider criminality, including the exploitation of children.
Child exploitation involves situations and relationships where young people receive items such as food, accommodation, drugs, alcohol, cigarettes, gifts or money as a result of them completing a task, often of a criminal nature, on behalf of another person or group.
The child involved may not always realise that the tasks they were given are linked to or include the movement of drugs.
Children as young as seven are being groomed into the world of drugs. They are forced to move cocaine, sometimes inside their own bodies across counties and beyond. In doing so, they face violence, intimidation, risks to their health and life. These are the true costs of cocaine use.
How does this affect children in the Thames Valley?
Through our work with local support services, we know of hundreds of children who are, could be, or have been, at risk of exploitation, who are being supported by council teams across social care, early help and youth justice in the Thames Valley.
If you need help and advice in relation to a child or person you suspect is being exploited, you can visit the following support services: