As the capital eases out of lockdown, the Metropolitan Police Service is raising awareness of the devastating consequences drug supply has on young lives across the city.
A short film titled 'Fair Trade', written and directed by London filmmaker Leon Oldstrong, in association with the Met, follows the life of a 15-year-old Jason Bojai who is groomed by an exploitative gang in south London.
The film captures how Jason's life is forever changed, as he is manipulated by older gang members. As they gain his trust, they lead him down a path which isolates him from his friends and family and puts him in danger.
Conversely, 'Fair Trade' also highlights one of the drivers of drug supply in the capital, middle-class and recreational drug users, whose demand for products invariably helps fuel gang activity across the capital.
Detective Chief Superintendent Simon Rose, of the Met, said: “The 'Fair Trade' film is a powerful reminder of the true cost of illegal drugs. We know drugs are linked to a high proportion of violence in London. Young vulnerable people have lost their lives and will continue to be painfully exploited by gangs because of demands as a result of middle class drug use.
“Ignorance is not bliss. By purchasing drugs off the street, you are supporting this poisonous and illicit industry. We want people to watch this film and understand how they can help us in fighting violence and stopping those gangs exploiting children and vulnerable people.”
Leon Oldstrong, writer and director of Fair Trade, said: “This was a challenging film for me as I believe there are too many films that portray the Black experience and gang culture as synonymous, however I felt that it was well past due to address the role of white middle-class drug use in youth violence - the role of the drug user who doesn't need to turn to crime to fuel their habit and is continually 'let off the hook'. Conversely I felt that I could illustrate the fact that those who end up involved in gang culture and selling drugs are victims too. As London moves out of lockdown it is clear that things will not be the same as they were before, they can't be. My hope is that 'Fair Trade' will play a part in serious youth violence no longer being seen as normal."
To support the roll-out of Fair Trade, dedicated resources are also available to teachers and schools – which can be accessed remotely by visiting www.fairtrademovie.co.uk