MORE needs to be done to fight a ‘scourge on society’ that is devastating the region, the Home Secretary has said.

Priti Patel visited North Wales as part of the campaign, ahead of next month’s general election.

In an exclusive interview with the Leader, the Tory candidate for Witham spoke about local issues surrounding County Lines and drugs across Flintshire and Wrexham.

She said: “If we come back with a Conservative majority government, we can do so much more. We are going to roll up County Lines.

“Quite frankly drugs and County Lines are a scourge on society, full stop. They are blighting the lives of everybody that’s involved in drug dealing and drug running but they are blighting the lives of our young people in particular.”

County Lines is the supply of drugs from larger areas into smaller regions such as North Wales.

The Leader:

Home Secretary Priti Patel visited The Leader on Tuesday

The Leader regularly reports on many concerns across the region – which has been plagued by County Lines and organised crime gangs.

It has often been described as a ‘never-ending game of whack-a-mole’, something which North Wales Police is ‘dedicated’ to end.

The Home Secretary said their mission is to ‘roll up County Lines’ and has a dedicated fund for supporting police officers and young people.

A further £500million investment was secured for youth involvement, including facilities and youth clubs – not places where ‘people just go to be kept off the streets’ but ‘actually having additional support’, she said.

She continued: “What I have seen in the amazing position that I have, I meet a lot of young people who are getting back into education and training where they’ve been let down by the education system or pumped out at an early age.

The Leader:

Home Secretary Priti Patel with Conservative candidates Sanjoy Sen and Rob Roberts

“Their needs have not been met. We’ve got to find a way in which we can engage young people, treat them with the respect they deserve, engage with them on the issues they care about. Give them support so they are not actually seduced or enticed to get involved in criminality. They want security whether it’s at home or with a job.

“Sometimes they need a pathway, assistance and help and support in getting on that pathway and that’s what we are all about.”

Ms Patel added that youngsters need ‘security’, so they don’t feel like they have to join a gang.

What sounds ‘utterly unappealing’ to her, young people tend to feel ‘more secure’ because of the ‘so-called friends watching out for them’.

The Leader also asked Ms Patel what the Conservative Party is doing in terms of drug use in Wrexham.

Images and videos sent in by our readers have shown people in a zombie-like state after taking drugs like spice in their town.

The Leader:

Leader reporter Aaliyah Rugg speaks to Priti Patel ahead of UK general election

The Home Secretary said that the ‘full force’ of the law needs to be used in terms of tackling drug use.

Primarily working with the intelligence agency and national crime agency, she said: “I think quite frankly we need to do a lot more to stop drugs at the source.

“I see on a daily basis all sorts of criminal activity taking place but also organised crime and gangs are pedalling drugs like spice and obviously, I have seen the video footage as well and it is absolutely horrible, we need to do a range of things.

“From my perspective, as I am the Home Secretary, we are doing much more to stop drugs from the source. We are stopping them coming into the country and doing much more work in targeting criminal gangs.”

Another issue she said her party is looking at, is taking criminals through the justice system, adding: “Lock them up and take away their assets because they are earning quite a bit of money from this kind of stuff.

“Confiscate their assets and use the full force the law in the right kind of way and once they have gone through that they understand what the repercussions are.

“But, and this is a big but, we have to do much more in supporting people from the outset from getting involved in drugs and taking drugs. I don’t want to sound naive, but people are taking drugs for a reason.

“We need to have the community facilities and support behind that and the education to have more prevention.”

In her visit to the Leader office in Mold, she said she is showing her support for Conservative candidates in Alyn and Deeside (Sanjoy Sen) and Delyn (Rob Roberts).

The Home Secretary, who visited Wrexham yesterday, said: “We want to get Brexit done, get Britain moving again and we want to deliver for our country and get Parliament working again when we get a working majority.”

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