Ex-Norwich boxer Earl Ling to join EDP debate on knife crime
- Credit: ©Archant Photographic 2009
A former professional boxer-turned-youth worker will be speaking about the effects of county lines on young people at an EDP Open House discussion.
Earl Ling, 47, works with youngsters in Norfolk schools to teach them about the dangers of getting involved in violent crime.
He organises the school workshops and assemblies with London-based St Giles Trust after joining the charity in February last year.
Mr Ling said he has worked closely with children who have fallen prey to county lines drug gangs, with the youngest child being only eight years old.
"He was just approached by a drug dealer outside of his school," Mr Ling said.
"These dealers are coming from places like London, Birmingham and Manchester and they look at children here as an easy target, because they are less informed about the dangers of drugs."
County lines refers to the method used by gangs in big cities to supply drugs into smaller towns and rural areas, which can involve children acting as drug runners.
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The former sportsman said children in Norfolk are being subjected to an "entrenched gang culture" and said some of the blame lies with social media and drill music, a subgenre of rap with violent lyrics.
But he also said some of the children being target by gangs are vulnerable.
"Some of the kids I have spoken to are reduced to tears when they talk about their lives," he said. "Some come from disruptive families.
"They are impressionable and peer pressure plays a part."
Mr Ling will be joining our journalists and representatives of local organisations in a one-hour Open House discussion on the causes and effects of knife crime and county lines drug dealing in Norfolk.
Other speakers attending the event include Norwich Chief Inspector Sonia Humphreys, Detective Superintendent Andrew Coller, of Norfolk Police, councillor Sandra Bogelein from Norwich City Council's Mancroft ward, Chris Small from Norfolk County Council's youth offending team and Lauren Downes from Norfolk Safeguarding Children Partnership.
The conversation will be held on Tuesday, March 3 at 10am in the EDP's Norwich newsroom. Free refreshments will be available.
Admission is free but by ticket only and you can sign up here.