Young Brighton skaters ‘pushed into drug dealing’ at Level, concerned dad says

Posted On 01 Jun 2016 at 2:45 pm

Drug dealing is rife at the Level skatepark, with young skaters at risk of being coerced into dealing drugs or stealing by older criminals, a concerned dad has said.

The Level skatepark by muffinn on Flickr
The Brighton father says the situation is so bad he has moved his son away from the area to avoid him falling in with the wrong crowd.

He spoke to Brighton and Hove News after we reported how a then 15-year-old boy broke a 23-year-old skater’s jaw after attempting to sell him cannabis last summer.

The renovation of the park, which reopened in 2013, has won several awards, but its previous problems with drugs, street drinking and antisocial behaviour have proven harder to shake off, with toilets regularly vandalised and needle bins now installed.

The father, who wished to remain nameless, said part of the problem was that CCTV overlooking the skate park was faulty and easily avoided.

He said: “Dealers are basically giving drugs to kids for free then building up an obligation so they can get them to deal and/or steal for them.

“If you walk past the skatepark, dealers are very obviously present. There’s a surveillance camera there but everyone knows it doesn’t work properly and where to go to be out of its range.

“The trouble is not so much cannabis itself, but the methods being used to distribute it (exploiting younger kids to take the risks, creating obligations which then lead the kids to steal on behalf of dealers, which then potentially criminalises them etc).

“And I would say in Brighton it is a gateway drug because the dealers quickly push harder stuff with better margins on the kids.

“I can’t see any middle ground here. Either you decriminalise cannabis entirely or you go zero tolerance. At they very least, don’t let it happen in a children’s play park.”

Inspector Brian McCarthy said: “We are aware of these concerns and we regularly patrol the skatepark area of The Level and run operations there with officers in uniform and plain clothes.

“We monitor all calls to ensure we target repeat areas of anti social behaviour. In the last week we have received no calls to the Level relating to drug dealing or possession of drugs. We work closely with our partners to ensure the safety of the public when using the parks and open spaces.

“If people are concerned about this issue at The Level or they see drug dealing taking place, we urge them to report it to police by emailing 101@sussex.pnn.police.uk or ringing 101.”

A council spokesperson said: “Brighton and Hove’s Community Safety team has been working in partnership with Sussex Police and other agencies to make sure the Level is safe for everyone to enjoy.

“The refurbishment of this popular park has created a vibrant space with something to offer every age-group.

“The area is regularly patrolled by the police and members of the public are urged to call the police non-emergency number 101 to report any suspicious activity there.

“The Level has always been a popular place for people to meet and there have been some issues with drug dealing and drug use there.

“The Community Safety team arranged for medical waste bins to be put in the toilets for the safe disposal of needles, which are now being well-used with few needles being left on the floor of the cubicles.

“The Level is also regularly visited by the city’s drug and alcohol outreach services to try and engage with any drug users and drinkers there.”

  1. Emma Reply

    It’s all very well saying ring 101 but when I did that last week to report a non urgent incident, the wait to give someone details was 21 minutes. No one is going to wait that long.

  2. Al Bion-Street Reply

    ‘The father, who wished to remain nameless, said … “The trouble is not so much cannabis itself, but the methods being used to distribute it.” I think we can all interpret that as “Now, we all like the odd toke – me more than most – but these dealers are such RUFFIANS!”
    Probably buys Fair Trade, but doesn’t particularly care who’s suffered in the supply chain for his New Years Eve nose powder.

  3. Claire Reply

    There was a PCSO station in place in one of the pavilions during the first 3 months after The Level was restored but sadly there wasn’t the funding to make this permanent I believe. I’m sure it would have been a deterrent.

    • D.Metcalfe Reply

      You are so right, this must be put back into place immediately including proper Police officers patrolling as well. This must be taken seriously by the Council and Police, and if contacted, to deal with this immediately. Also plain clothed officers would probably be a better idea to catch these sick/twisted people praying on our children.

  4. George Reply

    It’s true that 101 calls can take some time. After seeing this article, I took a look at the skate park on the Level and spotted dealers immediately. I reported them to the police and it took about 15 minutes in total. A bit of a pain but if we all take the trouble then something might actually get done, and we won’t get ridiculous statements like: “In the last week we have received no calls to the Level relating to drug dealing or possession of drugs…” (oh well, everything must be OK there then, no reports for literally DAYS…)

  5. Jez Reply

    I’m stunned reading this. Instead of spending millions building a stupid tower on the seafront, perhaps use this towards helping the rising homelessness, alcoholics and drug users. More resource needs to be focused towards crime here. Our kids are playing in these places with drug dealers and other criminals prevelant. Surely fitting needle bins in toilets is a clear signal to users that it’s ok here. Cut the supply and cut the demand, get this city cleaned up.

    • Schooble Reply

      Needles bins aren’t just used for illegal drugs, in a decent accessible toilet there should be a sharps bin and a medical waste bin.

  6. Colin Reply

    Legalise and regulate the cannabis market and then there won’t be any need for street dealing. The price of buying cannabis legally would be a lot less than currently because it’s prohibition that pushes the price up. It’s over 4 decades since the misuse of Drugs Act. It’s about time the government realised they aren’t going to win.

  7. Nadia Barroso Reply

    Everyday I walk past through the level on my way to work and last week around 5.30 p.m there was a middle aged man throwing up non stop for 10 minutes in the middle of the park near the kids. Because of his company I can presume that he was on drugs. Really sad to see a beautiful park being destroyed by junkies.

    • Christopher Hawtree Reply

      Did you report this in any way?

  8. Lynn Craddock Reply

    I phoned the council about this and they promised to look into it but obviously was a waste of time .Drug takers were in amongst the young boys trying to use the park and drinkers as well.Its obvious why they’re up to its such a shame as a lovely pai is being ruined

  9. Anonymous Reply

    As somebody that uses the level skatepark almost everyday (for the right reasons) I find this rather amusing. There’s not “drug dealers everywhere” and young kids certainly aren’t getting forced to do anything regarding drugs. It’s a shame to see somebody trying to blame other people for the way his child has grown up. Growing up you experiment with many different things and if your sons coming home stinking of cannabis of course you’re precious little son hasn’t done this off his own back, dad will be the first to point fingers and jump to assumptions. this happens everywhere around the world don’t try and bring down a community we have at the level and give it a bad name just because your son is misbehaving and you as a father obviously haven’t got the best relationship with your son if he can’t come clean with you so you point fingers and try to blame everyone else! Wake up and smell the coffee you waffle.

  10. Rik Reply

    I live close to the level, and pass through it frequently, including on my way to and from work. Every time I pass the skatepark I see real positivity. People of varying ages and abilities skating, older kids and adults, allowing younger ones to practice without hogging the facilities. Yes, I see teenagers sitting in the corner smoking weed, but I never see them hassling anyone else, or ‘preying on our children’. If you’re uncomfortable with marijuana consumption, perhaps you’re living in the wrong city. Some people read way too much Daily Mail.

  11. Skater at the level Reply

    As someone who skates the skatepark daily I can safely say that the public and the police have absolutely no idea how bad the level really is, but I don’t stand for the comments about drug dealers getting kids to do it for them, the dealers stay away from the kids because normally the “kids” your talking about band together to ask everyone in the park for tobacco to put in the spliffs which they paid for by stealing from there parents, cannabis consumption is something that happens regularly there and yet the police haven’t done anything about it

  12. Jake Reply

    The level has always been a dodgy area, there is very little that can be done about this as it is the biggest open space within town so it will always attract down and outs. How ever I believe the skate park to be the safest, most criminal free part of the park and that most skaters have very little to do with this people. The needle bin is obviously zero to do with skaters, there is no way anyone could skate on heroine. I walk past the skate park both night and day very often and have never seen anything dodgy, everyone is just there to have fun and enjoy what they love, sure the area might smell of weed every now and then but big deal. Get way drug? Rubbish, this is another example of old people being massively out of touch, there is very little fact in this article.

  13. Ash Reply

    The skatepark isn’t a children’s play park. Even though all you irresponsible excuses for mums and dads like to leave your kids unattended like it’s some kind of skater nursery. Take it from someone that’s spends every moment I can skating that the drug problem isn’t stemming from the skaters. You all need to get stuffed with your hearsay bull and start focusing g on the real problems. (I.e. Your kids whereabouts are mor important than coffee with felicity + the shorty wannabe gangs that the police seem to conveniently walk straight past, pussies of the highest order)

  14. Barbara Reply

    The skateboarders are the criminals who sell the drugs those delinquents love to play innocent but we all know those secondary school drop outs are the real trash I mean come on you idiots ride round on planks of wood with wheels and call it an art that’s completely insane every skatepark should be flattened we need more schools

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