‘Ketwig cannabis culture is destroying our children’ says former top Liverpool drug dealer
Liverpool Echo December 30, 2018
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A former top Liverpool drug dealer who was one of Britain’s most wanted criminals has said that he is concerned about the number of young people smoking strong cannabis.
Paul Walmsley once featured in a Crimestoppers most wanted campaign, and his mugshot was circulated across the UK and Europe.
The Norris Green man spent time on the run in Holland and Spain, but eventually returned to the UK and handed himsellf in to the police.
Paul was jailed for ten years after admitting drug offences, but then began turning his life around in prison.
Today Paul works with young people across Merseyside, listening to their concerns and talking to them about gangs, drugs and crime.
He said: “Young people smoking cannabis is a massive issue in Liverpool right now.
“There is a growing sub-culture of young people who live their lives around cannabis. They call it Cali and Cheddar and some of these new strains are particularly strong and harmful.
“Some of these kids are as young as 12, and there is a concern about the affects on their brain development.
“I have been around these kids and they get into a certain lifestyle, which is all about the weed.”
Former Liverpool drug dealer Paul Walmsley photographed in the Baltic Quarter (Image: Liverpool Echo)
Paul said he recently carried out a survey amongst a group of around 100 teenagers in Liverpool, and was shocked by the results.
He said: “I spend a lot of time working with kids who hang around in parks at night.
“We asked a group of them if there was something that could be provided for them in the parks, and they asked for a safe zone where they could smoke weed.
” I think that response summed up the problem in Liverpool right now in that it’s all about smoking weed.”
Paul said that he is concerned that young people smoking cannabis were having problems in school.
He said: “In my experience around 90% of the young people who are excluded from school have issues with cannabis.
“I know that the kids smoking weed sign up for certain culture. They wear certain clothes, have the Ketwig big hair look and become very lazy.
“And they live their lives through social media on their mobiles. These kids are on a certain path.”
Paul Walmsley at Burbo Bank,Blundelsands,a former Crimestoppers Most Wanted,who spent five years on the run. (Image: Liverpool Echo)
Paul said that he was able to use his own experiences of drugs to help young people.
He said: “Smoking cannabis nearly killed me. I kept passing out and ended up in seriously ill in hospital. I had to stop if I wanted to live.
“I know it’s fashionable at the moment to argue for legalisation but I am not so sure. I could see it working for certain age groups but obviously not for kids.
“The one thing I do like about legalisation is that it takes away the kudos of criminality. If cannabis is legal it makes it less cool. But legalisation is a complex area and I do not have all the facts.”
Paul lost direction as a teenager after his dad died. He later began associating with criminals and became a drug dealer.
He moved to a big house in Blundellsands and spent his weekends partying with footballers and rockstars.
But when the police began to close in on the gang Paul fled to Holland, and went on the run.
After his mugshot appeared on Sky News, Paul realised it was time to hand himself in to the police back in the UK.
He now now uses his own life story to warn young people about gang life.
He said: “Obviously I am not a criminal anymore so I am removed from that world.
“But in terms of the young people on the edge of that life, the main theme I hear is one of total anarchy. Anything can happen to them at any time.”
Paul Walmsley at Burbo Bank, Blundelsands,a former Crimestoppers Most Wanted, who spent five years on the run. (Image: Liverpool Echo)
Paul said it was possible for people who had served jail terms to turn their back on crime.
He said: ” I don’t buy the whole thing where people are locked into cyle of re-offending and you can’t stop being a criminal.
“You can. I know that the drugs game brings quiick financial gains. You can have a new Golf and ten grand cash without even trying.
“But then the police can come through your door and take the lot off you. One minute you are watching telly and they you are in the back of a sweat box.
“The drugs game is about risk. And crime is all about danger. I tell the kids that.”
Paul recently spoke to the Sunday Times when he said that cuts to funding was reducing the police’s ability to fight serious crime in Liverpool.
He said: “They need resources to deal with serious crime. But it’s not just the police. There have been cuts across the board to a whole range of services across the city which has made life a lot harder for a lot of people.”
Paul, who grew up in Norris Green, said that although the city centre had attracted massive investment over the last decade, many communities across Merseyside had been neglected.
He said: “The city centre has boomed over recent years and you now have these trendy areas like the Baltic Quarter where everyone is really cool and that is great.