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Quality reporting sparks key drugs meeting

The positive impact of high quality journalism was highlighted when a conference on crack cocaine was organised as a direct result of a feature in the Surrey Comet by trainee reporter Simeon Brody.

The conference, at Kingston University, brought together 30 agencies, from the director of Coca – the main charity on crack and cocaine – to drugs projects, the police, magistrates, schools, Kingston University and the council.

At the start of the hard-hitting conference Kingston’s director of social services, Roy Taylor, told the audience that the contents of Simeon’s article – some of which he read out – had inspired him to organise the event.

The three-part feature on drugs had taken him inside Kaleidoscope, one of the UK’s leading drugs projects, where he interviewed people whose lives had been destroyed by drugs.

He also wrote that a recent police operation where hundreds of rocks of crack were seized supported the view of addicts that crack was taking hold in the borough.

This was not the official view at the time and Roy said it had set alarm bells ringing for him.

And determined to discover the true picture the council commissioned research with addicts and among young people in the borough – the results of which proved crack is a very serious issue in the borough.

Simeon said afterwards: “I felt very proud – it is good to think that things you write can have a real and positive impact on the community.”

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