DRUG deals are taking place outside a school, with children being recruited to sell cocaine and heroin, it is feared.

Concerns have been raised about alleged crimes outside Victory Park Academy, Wentworth Road, Southend including drug activity and antisocial behaviour.

During a meeting of Southend Council’s peoples scrutiny committee ward councillor Trevor Harp revealed families had raised their concerns with him.

Mr Harp said: “Generally it is anti-social behaviour in the street of the Wentworth Road area and into Bournemouth Park. We are not certain if it involves pupils from the unit or their associates.”

He added the school is a “prime target” for gang recruitment and some of those hanging around may be involved in “on the edge” activities.


He added: “If they are meeting friends from school I wouldn’t say they are being groomed or getting involved in county lines. But it is difficult to quantify that.”

In October the Echo reported on children as young as 13 years old being recruited by drug dealing gangs due to their vulnerability.

Brin Martin, Southend Council’s director of learning, said: “We are working very closely with the trust and are having a considerable number of meetings about the vulnerabilities of the learners there.

“I have communicated with members of the trust in relation to the community complaints.

“Some of the incidents are adults or young people who have nothing to do with the school who happen to be clustering around there for a number of purposes, not all of which are good.

“While the school must be and should be held to account for their pupils on roll, if it is adults and members of the community that is a matter for the police. “

A spokesman of Essex Police said: “We are aware of concerns about behaviour in the Wentworth Road area of Southend. We continue to liaise with the school and the local authority and there have been increased patrols in the last few weeks.”

A spokesman for the academy said: “The academy is aware that some young adults, not associated with the provision, have been hanging around the gates and the local area. Victory Park Academy has taken a range of actions such as staff being present at the start and end of the day wearing high visibility jackets to ensure the pupils are safe and also will support pupils to get home safely if required. We pride ourselves on our close partnerships with support services and are currently working closely with a range of services such as police to ensure the safety and wellbeing of all pupils.”