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  1. ITV Report

Operation Gravity: Children as young as 12 being used to sell drugs

Children are being used by gangs to deliver drugs to their customers. Credit: PA

It's exactly a year since Norfolk police set up Operation Gravity in response to the increasing levels of violence associated with drug dealing.

ITV News Anglia was given access to police teams trying to curb the supply of class A drugs and limit the damage they do on communities and schools.

It's led to increasing levels of violent crime, and the subsequent misery for vulnerable people caught up in chaotic lifestyles.

Steve Stannard was stabbed six times Credit: Archant

One of the victims of drug violence was Steve Stannard.

He was stabbed to death by a drugs runner placed in his Norwich flat by a London drugs gang.

The region's police forces face a similar problem - trying to counteract gangs from the big cities expanding their operations into rural areas.

"Realistically, the problem of drug supply will never stop, admits Norfolk's assistant Chief Constable Paul Sanford.

"What we are seeing is a reduction in the levels of violence associated with drugs crime and that's a positive from the proactive measures we're taking."

The police in Essex, Norfolk and Suffolk have all set up operations to counteract gangs from major cities Credit: ITV News Anglia

Mr Sanford is also calling on parents to be aware of their children's activities, with drugs gangs increasingly grooming youngsters with offers of cash.

"Whether it be sexual exploitation or in this case drug exploitation, we really encourage parents to know what their children are up to, to ask the questions."

"If they're spending time online or on phones excessively, ask why. There's probably a good reason for it but in some cases there might not be and when that is the case we need to act, and act fast, " he said.

Police have made a concerted effort to reduce the surge in violent crime. Credit: ITV News Anglia

In Suffolk, police have targeted the drug dealers with Operation Velocity.

Children as young as 12 are being used to sell drugs in the region.

The police recognise that youngsters are at risk from seemingly attractive looking offers from drug dealers. They say this will only end in misery and potential tragedy.

To reinforce the message they've put their weight behind a play being shown in all Norfolk high schools. It's called Countylines, a drama revealing the temptation facing the young.

Inspector Bex Brown, from Norfolk police's safer schools and youth engagement team said: "Hopefully with this play it will teach them that you can say no; you don't get anything for free in life and that there are consequences to it and to go and speak to someone for help."

The police in Suffolk have been involved in drugs operations for several years. Credit: PA