'Unprecedented demand' for places at county lines meeting
WEST SUFFOLK COLLEGE
Some parents were turned away from a meeting on county lines in Bury St Edmunds last night due to "unprecedented demand" for places.
West Suffolk College united with nine other schools in and around the Bury area to host the meeting on drug supply, with parents able to raise concerns and ask questions.
Due to the attendance of more than 350 parents and carers, a second meeting was held immediately after but some parents were also turned away from that meeting due to demand.
Cathy Durrant, head of pastoral support at West Suffolk College. delivered an hour long presentation explaining what County Lines is - offering advice on what parents should look for.
This was then followed by Superintendent Kim Warner, of Suffolk police, who answered the questions directly from the parents in the audience.
The issue was brought to the attention of many in Bury St Edmunds due to the trial of 17-year-old Kieran Hayward, from the town, who was convicted of murdering Ipswich man Daniel Saunders, 32, in a drug related "revenge attack".
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The schools and colleges involved in the meeting were: West Suffolk College, Culford School, County Upper School, St Benedict's Catholic School, King Edward VI School, Sybil Andrews Academy, Priory School, Abbeygate Sixth Form College, The Albany and Thurston Community College.
Tim Coulson, chief executive of the Unity Schools Partnership, said: "County lines is an issue for the Bury St Edmunds area, Suffolk and the country as a whole. This is not about one school having an issue. It is a collective problem in our society.
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"We felt an alliance of ten schools and colleges in and around Bury St Edmunds, working together, would be the best way to tackle this problem head-on and start coming up with solutions.
"But this partnership must also include input from parents and authorities as well as other interested bodies, individuals and organisation.
"While some parents might be aware of the problem, the meeting helped others understand the dangers potentially facing their children.
"We were delighted with the response from parents who turned out in their hundreds. The schools, and partners, will now be working closely together to come up with solutions and ways of raising more awareness of this serious issue."
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Colin Shaw, vice principal for quality and student experience at West Suffolk College, said: "Thank you to all those who attended the meeting last night.
"We are aware that some parents/carers were unable to get in to either of the two meetings held; but this does demonstrate that this issue is one that deserves discussion.
"Our young people deserve us to all join forces to work towards finding a solution to county lines.
"To that end, as a partnership, we will be facilitating a further meeting and the parents/carers will be informed of the details surrounding this in due course.
"As educationalists, we are fully committed to tackling this problem and the sheer numbers we saw last night shows us that the parents/carers in the local community feel the exact same."