CamdenNewJournal

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Young drug dealers are also victims of crime, says borough’s top cop

'When it comes to drugs, if you are drug dealing and under 16, you are a victim of crime. Simple.'

28 February, 2019 — By Samantha Booth

Chief Supt Raj Kohli (left) is Camden’s fourth top cop in just 12 months

CAMDEN’s new top cop has insisted the police will not criminalise young people, describing some teenage drug dealers as victims of crime themselves.

In his first address to the community after being appointed, Chief Superintendent Raj Kohli spoke at a meeting a year after two young men were stabbed to death in Camden on the same night.

He said: “You have my total commitment that we will engage with our young people, we will not criminalise young people. My view, I’m a simple man, it’s quite straightforward: when it comes to drugs, if you are drug dealing and under 16, you are a victim of crime. Simple.”

He added: “If you’re an adult and you are causing young people to commit criminality, I will personally march you to Pentonville Prison and lock the door. It’s not acceptable.”

He said that police would “endeavour to make sure” young people don’t enter the criminal justice system and instead look after them, adding: “Frankly speaking, they are committing crime because we have let them down.”

Concerns have been previously raised about the high turnover of the most senior role in the policing borough of Camden and Islington in the last year. Chief Supt Kohli, who was previously a superintendent in Camden, is the fourth top cop in 12 months.

He has committed to at least two years in the role.

The “youth safety taskforce” in Camden found a “striking” distrust of police among young people in a probe into knife violence in the borough.

Chief Supt Kohli invited young Somali people to join police on patrol.

He said: “See what we do, tell us how we are doing this, understand us, we can understand them, become special constables, become paid officers, take my job in 10 years’ time, I will give it to you, I will gladly give it to you.”

He added: “Our hopes shouldn’t be, let’s make sure they are not stabbed – that’s not an acceptable hope. Our hope should be, let’s make them the best they can be.”

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