Teenagers across Teesside are being blackmailed into organised crime, including car theft, with horrific naked videos and 'free drugs', The Northern Echo can reveal.

One horrifying story told by a 14-year-old involved a young man being drugged or intoxicated before he was stripped naked and videoed. That footage is now used to blackmail him into car theft and other criminal acts.

Another account from a young woman in Cleveland revealed that she felt she had to carry a machete due to the struggles she was having in her community.

On Thursday, February 29 The Northern Echo revealed that teenagers across Teesside were also smuggling knives and guns into their grandparent's homes.

The shocking reality facing some families in parts of Teesside in the last six months is that children, some younger than 10-years-old, are being groomed to transport drugs and weapons, putting themselves and their loved ones in real danger.

A new programme has been running at the Cleveland custody suite allowing teenagers the chance to talk to a specialist team about the difficulties facing them.

The scheme, run by the Cleveland Unit for the Reduction of Violence (CURV) through the Police and Crime Commissioner's office, have heard a range of horrifying stories during the last six months.

Here are a few of the most shocking:

Male A

A young 14-year-old offender, Male A, has shared his experiences handing in his knife and what he knows about other young people being controlled by organised criminal groups.

Male A revealed to Cleveland Police custody navigators, who talk to young people in custody, that he was keeping multiple knives in his room at home but that he no longer wanted to have them.

Through his work with the custody navigators he had realised that the best thing to do was to hand them into the police.

A custody navigator arranged the drop off and visited Male A's house. 

The Northern Echo: Handed in knife

During that visit the young man told them about a notorious young person in the area who is linked to an organised crime group (OCG) in the area.

He explained how the group had got the boy drunk or drugged and then shaved, stripped naked and videoed his unconscious body.

That group, which Cleveland Police call OCG Huggett, are now using that video to exploit the young boy to pressure him into car thefts and other illegal activity.

The boy in question is now known as 'Wall banger'.

Information gathered from Male A has helped to produce a police intelligence sharing report, which has in turn been sent to the complex exploitation ream.

Female A:

Another horrifying case study that the navigators helped bring to light involved a 17-year-old woman who was brought in for affray, criminal damage and possession of a machete.

When she was brought into custody she was reluctant to cooperate with any services offered.

However, when she was awaiting the decision on a charge she was encouraged to speak to Kate, one of the navigators, and she agreed.

Kate spoke to her for 1 hour and 20 minute and discovered struggles she was having in her community.

She found that the young woman had felt frustrated with previous support she had been offered and didn't feel listened to.

The 17-year-old was then released on bail but remained in contact with Kate over email.

Kate has helped her complete a housing application, sign up for the 12-week Princes Trust Programme, re-engage with mental health service CAMHS and access the Youth Justice Service Turnaround project.

Male B

On this occasion an "extremely high-risk male" was brought into custody for knife point theft and possession of Class A drugs.

The young man had resisted arrest and had to be handcuffed and leg-strapped before being brought into custody.

When he was brought in he spotted Kate (one of the custody navigators) and asked to speak to her. He told her about the injuries he had sustained during his arrest. Throughout the conversation Kate attempted to calm him down and explain why he had been given new clothing.

She was successful and a Sergeant felt comfortable enough to take of Male B's handcuffs. Unfortunately, three policing staff came up behind him too quickly and his behaviour escalated again and he was restrained before being taken to his cell for a strip search.