Girls offered free mephedrone for ‘sexual favours’

Inspector Clare Jenkins has issued a warning over drug mephedrone's link to child exploitation
Inspector Clare Jenkins has issued a warning over drug mephedrone's link to child exploitation
Police

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UNDERAGE girls have been offered free mephedrone in exchange for sex, a top police officer has said.

Inspector Clare Jenkins’ warning over the drug’s link to child exploitation comes as a task force is tackling children’s use of the drug in Gosport and Fareham.

Police and other organisations launched the work last April, with substance misuse charity Catch 22 helping 36 young people using the drug so far.

Insp Jenkins said: ‘Young girls have been offered it free at parties in exchange for sexual favours.

‘We do have intelligence that it happens.

‘That’s the issue that causes us the most worry.’

She said there was one report of it being offered in those circumstances.

Operation Tapestry Action Group, which includes Gosport Borough Council, was set up to tackle young people using the class B drug, known as meow meow, drone and M-Cat.

Parents and carers are being warned about the tell-tale signs that children are hooked on the drug.

These include a strong smell of cat urine and extreme weight loss in a short time.

The drug can also cause sniffing and nosebleeds, long-term mental health problems, and anxiety, aggression and crying.

Sarah Green, Catch 22 service manager, said: ‘We have particular concerns around their physical and mental health.

‘We want to educate professionals across Hampshire.

‘If professionals are aware of the risk they can work with us and we can get them in quickly for assessment.’

The pilot scheme in Gosport and Fareham could be extended to other areas, she added.

She said: ‘The risks are significant relating to that drug. There’s always going to be young people we don’t see.’

Ms Green added it is important to help people on the drug as soon as possible to minimise the damage.

She added: ‘It’s an immediate risk to physical health.

‘It causes immediate damage to the nasal area, it’s very toxic, we see a lot of haemorrhaging from the nose.’

Young people can refer themselves to the group.

Call the Catch 22 crisis line on 0800 599 9591 at any time.