School's head tells police he can name the drug dealers who target pupils in Penistone

Drug dealers are targeting children outside a South Yorkshire school, with its principal telling police at a meeting he could name ten of them.

Friday, 17th May 2019, 1:47 pm
Updated Monday, 20th May 2019, 12:18 pm

South Yorkshire Police insist drug problems in Penistone are relatively low compared to the scale of abuse elsewhere, though a public meeting attended by Police and Crime Commissioner Dr Alan Billings heard from residents that known dealers in the area continue to operate unchallenged.

The meeting heard from one parent who insisted that pupils as young as 12 were turning up for lessons at Penistone Grammar School 'drugged off their faces' – an allegation strenuously denied by principal Paul Crook.

It was also told a 16-year-old college student, whose mother approached police for help with drug issues six months ago and was in hospital awaiting surgery for facial injuries after being attacked.

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Residents suspect an older dealer was involved.

Mr Crook said there had been 'no reports at all' of pupils in school being unfit through drugs or dealing on the premises, but he told police stories of drug dogs being used at the school gates had circulated but were untrue.

He said: “I don’t think that needs to happen at Penistone Grammar School but it needs to happen in the community.

“I could name ten, what we call dealers, who are targeting vulnerable children in Penistone. We have shared them with the police.

“We can name one, two, three, four, eight people. It is how you are going to catch them?

“We have some year tens who will be the next 24 year olds, beating people up. It is how we keep them from the people in the community at 24 now, who were here nine years ago. It is how we keep them away from those people.

“I live in the community. It needs to be better than it is,” he said.

Facebook reports of drug problems affecting pupils at the grammar school were unfounded, he said, citing a report of a child being airlifted to hospital with a suspected drugs overdose when in fact it was a medical emergency.

“I would not have it at Penistone Grammar School,” said Mr Crook.

Chief Insp Mark James told around 40 people who attended the meeting: “The drug issues in Penistone, compared to other areas in Barnsley, as far as we know, are negligible.

“That isn’t to say there are not people who take drugs in Penistone and who sell drugs.

“What is reported to us, what crimes we have, what is evidenced, compared to everywhere else, Penistone does not have an issue.”

Dr Billings told the meeting drugs was a national issue and whatever issues there were in Penistone were almost certainly fuelled by the supply of substances from larger urban areas.

“Drugs is a national issue and and issue across South Yorkshire,” he said.

“I can take you to parts of South Yorkshire where drug dealing really is rife. Where you have schools, you will have kids with something in their pockets. There isn’t a huge issue in Penistone.

“Part of the frustration with drugs is that often names are known. The ones we really have to get at are the suppliers, they are the ones responsible for gangs, grooming and county lines,” he said.