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Addressing drugs and knife crime

Phoebe Simcock, 4th Nov 2021
Tags: Life Interview Crime Drugs

A life of crime can seem endless. Claud Jackson, author of ‘Guns to God’, lived a life of crime before finding his faith and turning his life around. He now uses his experience to give guidance to others on a bad path.

I used to carry a knife and as I got older I was using firearms.

Claud, you have seen first-hand what knife crime can do, what advice could you give to someone who is involved in this type of crime? 

Claud: A large amount of knife crime victims carry knives. So to carry a knife, isn't going to protect yourself, that's not a way out. The reality of the situation is, you can get life for carrying a knife. So what we haven't really heard enough of is that those who use knives to get in life for 20 to 30 years for knife crime, that's the harsh reality. It's a bottomless pit. 

I used to carry a knife and as I got older I was using firearms. Knives are a gateway weapon. So you either become a victim or a statistic because nobody actually becomes a success story from using knives or firearms. 

Young Claud Jackson
Young Claud Jackson
Image Credit: Claud Jackson

What should people do if they are offered drugs or involved in drug-related activities? 

You have to tell somebody, not just for yourself, but for that individual. If the problem is shared it can be monitored more effectively. I smoked cannabis but having access to cannabis led me to sell things like cocaine and heroin. It's a gateway drug. Unfortunately, three people who I sold drugs to lost their lives to drug abuse. My own brother overdosed and now has stents in his heart. So the harsh reality is, whether you think they're doing damage or not, I can tell you they are. 

Some feel that they are tough enough to deal with the crime, but no one is tough enough to live with the consequences. I have that level of the shame from what I’ve done every day, and if I could take back every single drug that I ever sold, trust me, I really would. Nothing but destruction has come from it.

Fear doesn’t mean respect particularly within peer groups, it is such a fake illusion.

You used to believe that with fear came respect, what do you think about this now?  

In business, your reputation is everything and nobody wants to do business with an individual who’s got a bad reputation for violence. So whether you want to be a tough guy or a gangster, the reality is in the real world, it counts for nothing. Twenty years later, when I'm trying to be ambassadors for individuals who have fallen victim to similar situations of that of my own, that people don't ask me about my life because people are scared of me. 

Fear doesn’t mean respect particularly within peer groups, it is such a fake illusion, and I'm so sick of it because I fell victim to it. When you get older, it actually counts for nothing. Most of your friends are going to end up jobless and homeless or worse, in prison or dead. Who wants to be feared in a world where you want to be successful with people and in a career?

Young Claud Jackson
Young Claud Jackson
Image Credit: Claud Jackson

You were a victim of racism at the age of 12, what advice would you give to others who are experiencing this?  

So if you're being targeted because of you how you look it's because the individual that's targeting you is probably frightened or weak, or has been targeted themselves. So always tell a professional like a teacher or the police. 

You are born to be great, and it's great that you were born. I promise you that one day you'll look back and say, ‘how pathetic was that I used to get targeted because of how I look’. It is important to always tell someone, because as soon as you bring light to the dark, things get better.

If you’re affected by any of the issues mentioned above, please consult the helplines below:

  • Talk to Frank
  • Premier Lifeline Open 9am to midnight every day on 0300 111 0101 
  • Text the YoungMinds Crisis Messenger for free 24/7 support across the UK. Text YM to 85258. 
  • Samaritans 116 123. Call for free, day or night, 365 days a year

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