The Good Drug Dealer Film Rolls Out
That's the warning issued by Education Consultant, Jeff O'Reilly, who joins the Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC) for Gwent in encouraging educational establishments, parents and youth organisations to embrace a new hard hitting film and educational package which highlights the dangers of using new psychoactive substances (NPS).
Supported with a £5,000 contribution from Gwent PCC Ian Johnston's Partnership Fund, the 60 minute film - The Good Drug Dealer - focuses on the devastating impact of drugs such as Mephedrone (commonly known as meow meow / m-cat) on families and local communities. The film was created out of an identified community need in Gwent and was brought to fruition by the community organisation PACE (Partners and Communities Engaging) which includes Caerphilly and Blaenau Gwent County Borough Councils, Tai Calon Community Housing, Tredegar Communities First and the South East Wales Safeguarding Children Board.
The Good Drug Dealer was directed by the Welsh BAFTA winner from Brynmawr, Peter Watkins-Hughes, whose previous success includes the anti-texting while driving film, 'Cow', which is still receiving world-wide attention and has clocked in the region of 3 million views on You Tube.
The funding from the Commissioner was used to develop the film and the accompanying DVD-ROM education package as well as helping to provide training for best use of the package by teachers, youth workers and police within existing drug education programmes. Both the film and the education package are now ready to be rolled out to all schools and youth organisations in Gwent, free of charge, in preparation for the next academic year.
And with the aim of reaching as wide an audience as possible, Gwent PCC Ian Johnston will host a screening of The Good Drug Dealer at the Association of Police and Crime Commissioner's Annual General Meeting in Manchester this week. Each of the PCCs will also receive a copy of the DVD so they can share and promote the film with educational establishments and youth organisations in their own communities.
The Education Pack has been informed by young people themselves and designed for use by school pupils from the age of 14 and over. One student, who took part in the evaluation at one of the trial schools, commented: "The film opened my eyes a lot about drugs and I will never, ever go near them. It made me realise how bad things can get when you sell or use drugs."
Since it premiered in Brynmawr last year, The Good Drug Dealer has generated overwhelmingly positive results in Gwent and has received multiple endorsements from agencies including Action for Children and recently scooped an award at the Gwent Police Awards for partnership work to deliver improved services to the citizens of Gwent.
The film is based on research by former school teacher, Jeff O'Reilly, who spent a year speaking to approximately 70 youngsters aged around 15 and 16 in Blaenau Gwent.
"This film is important because the increase in use of new psychoactive substances such as Mephedrone means we are facing the largest drugs concern in parts of Gwent I have seen in over thirty years of working in the development of drugs education for schools," he explains.
"When I was conducting my research, I found out it was easier for a 14 year old to buy Mephedrone than cigarettes. Also, more teenage girls are using this drug than any other to lose weight. And for the first time in my experience, young people are cocktailing the drug by smoking cannabis to bring them down gently from the effects of Mephedrone as a sort of emotional parachute.
We are now in the process of rolling this film out as far and wide as possible. This resource has to be built into a highly structured drugs education programme and we are encouraging educational establishments, parents and youth organisations to embrace the film and the important messages it conveys. The Commissioner's Partnership Fund has been vital to this project and the Commissioner and his team have been central in driving this forward not just financially but in an advisory capacity as well."
Urging people to embrace the film and the educational package, the Police and Crime Commissioner for Gwent, Ian Johnston, said: "These psychoactive substances pose a serious threat to the health and safety of people in our communities and I'm delighted that the money from our Partnership Fund has been spent on such a worthwhile educational project which could help save lives. We want to send out the clearest possible message that the trade in these substances is reckless and that these substances can be dangerous to people's health - even fatal."
There is currently a wide-spread use of psychoactive substances in some of our communities and it's likely that the creation of new psychoactive substances will continue to increase in the future. That's why we are encouraging young people to make the most of this package so they can make the right choices if and when the time comes they are offered these substances."
The Regional Manager for the Commissioner funded Gwent Drug Intervention Programme, Lyn Webber, said: "Within the client group entering the drug intervention programme we have seen a substantial increase in the use of psychoactive substances. This is of concern to myself and team members dealing with individuals and the devastating effects it has on them and their families. Any initiative than can highlight the dangers when using psychoactive substances such as Mephedrone are welcomed. I fully support this film and I think it's a fantastic educational resource."
Tarian, the Southern Wales Regional Organised Crime Unit, continues to monitor the NPS market in South Wales and intelligence continues to indicate the use of NPS amongst school children. This has been further evidenced with a handful of incidents across the region in which school children have been taken to hospital following use of an NPS.
Detective Superintendent Rhiannon Kirk from the Welsh Regional Organised Crime Unit, Tarian, said: "We gave our full support to the making of this film, eager to share the data and intelligence picture we had built up. The film will help address concerns we have about exploitation of young people by dealers and the mistakenly glamorous profile of these new psychoactive substances.
The film is intentionally hard hitting, and will hopefully convey the reality of these drugs, and the harm and misery they cause. The film and Education Pack will allow young people to make more informed decisions and be less vulnerable to exploitation."
Any group or organisation wishing to utilise the film and the education package should contact the Chair of PACE, Councillor Hayden Trollope, on 01495 718276, or by e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org
New Psychoactive Substances (NPS) - THE FACTS
- According to the National Programme on Substance Abuse Deaths, New Psychoactive Substances (NPS) were involved in 68 deaths in the UK in 2012, a rise from 51 deaths in 2011, 42 deaths in 2010 and a large rise from 2009.
- The EMCDDA's (European Monitoring Centre for Drug and Drug Addiction) Early Warning System (EWS) is detecting new NPS at an increasing rate. In 2013 81 NPS that had not previously been encountered were detected by the EWS (over one per week), an increase from 73 in 2012, 49 in 2011, 41 in 2010 and 24 in 2009.
- Mephedrone use tends to be higher than other types of NPS. In 2011/12, mephedrone use among adults (16-59 year olds) was considerably higher (1.1%) than any other NPS (GBL/GHB, BZP and spice were 0.1%).
- The main effects and risks of Mephedrone include euphoria, alertness and feelings of affection towards the people around you. It can also cause feelings of anxiety and paranoia and can overstimulate your heart and nervous system with risk of fits (www.talktofrank.com)
- Injecting mephedrone is particularly dangerous. It's much easier to overdose when injecting. Research suggests that on average mephedrone is 50% pure, so it's not just the mephedrone that goes in to your bloodstream (www.talktofrank.com)