Yardies using increasingly brutal violence against rivals

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Attempts to frighten youngsters off drugs are counter-productive and more likely to encourage them to try illegal substances, police chiefs were warned yesterday.

The conference also heard that teachers should consider telling children from the age of 10 about the risks of drugs such as ecstasy at 'rave' parties. Alistair Ramsay, an adviser on drugs education at Strathclyde Regional Council, told the Acpo conference: 'Frightening and horrifying children is worse than doing nothing.'

He said the current education policy was failing, and cited a study in Rotterdam in 1972 which found that more than 7 per cent of secondary school pupils started taking drugs after being given 'shock' education.

This compared to a 2.6 per cent increase for youngsters who discussed issues they thought were relevant. A control group who were given no education increased their use of narcotics by 3.6 per cent.

More recent studies have confirmed these findings. Mr Ramsay said: 'These results suggest that trying to shock young people, or giving them information, is more counterproductive than not giving drug education programmes.'

He criticised many of the existing education programme that just emphasised the negative attitudes of drug use. 'We are trying to ram an adult agenda down their (youngsters') throats,' he said.

He called instead for educationalists to take more notice of youngsters' views and experiences. 'We must consider the value of telling 10-year-olds about the risks to which they might be exposed should they attend raves,' he said. 'We are going to have to invest time and money. Current drug education is not working.'

JAMAICAN gangsters are using violence to take control of drug distribution in a growing number of cities, the police conference was told yesterday. The criminals, known as Yardies, are using increasingly brutal tactics against rivals.

In north London a Nigerian drugs courier had her face and breasts ironed by a drugs gang to obtain details of her shipment. Yardies poured boiling water over her head when she passed out during the torture in 1991, delegates at Wakefield heard.

John Brennan, Detective Sergeant of the South East Regional Crime Squad, one of the country's leading experts on Yardies, said the Jamaican gangs now controlled most of the supply of crack cocaine in London, Manchester, Birmingham, Nottingham, Leeds and Bristol.

'Their power is based on violence to a horrendous degree,' he said. Mr Brennan believed the influence and power of the Yardies was growing rapidly.

He added: 'They are the entrepreneurs of the drug trade.' He said the Yardies had a more 'flexible' and loose-knit organisation than traditional mafia gangs, which made them hard to combat.

To combat the new threat he suggested using more informants and a greater willingness to prosecute gang members for crimes other than drug-related ones.

He said reports in the past few years that the Yardie threat had diminished were wrong. 'The problem has got much worse.' He cited recent research which found in the seven police regions where crack was readily available, distribution was controlled by Jamaican criminals.

Profits from the sale of crack, the highly addictive cocaine derivative, were enormous, he said. On several occasions police had raided Yardie homes and discovered 'airing cupboards full of money'.