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UK CHILDREN ENTER DRUG TRADE AT YOUNG AGE?


LONDON, U.K. - Children as young as 11 have been arrested for possessing drugs with intent to sell, shocking figures revealed on Friday. The statistics show the extent to which drugs have penetrated the lives of schoolchildren.
Police have made more than 12,000 arrests of under-16s for possessing or supplying illegal substances over the past three years. The figures reveal youngsters are experimenting with cannabis, ecstasy, speed, cocaine and even heroin.
  • Police have caught 11-year-olds with drugs they intend to sell, possibly after being recruited by older dealers.
  • Campaigners said the damning statistics are evidence of how drugs are corrupting the lives of children at an increasingly young age.
  • They suspect many teenagers consider drugs an integral part of growing up, inextricably linked to the music and dance culture.
Former teacher Mary Brett, who has written books on educating children about the dangers of drugs, said those caught may be only the tip of the iceberg.
She said: "I am sure a lot of police turn a blind eye, certainly I have heard anecdotally that many do nothing when children are caught with a bit of cannabis.
  • "I am not at all surprised by these figures. The average age when people start using cannabis is now about 13 and I have reports of nine-year-olds experimenting.
  • "The penalties are not followed. I am not saying children should be put in jail, but they should receive a real rap on the knuckles.
  • "These are the young people who will go on and use more serious drugs. There is no doubt cannabis is a gateway to other drugs."
  • The damning evidence was obtained by Daily Mail through Freedom of Information Act requests to police forces. A total of 40 of the 43 forces in England and Wales responded, revealing 12,589 drug-related arrests of under-16s in the past three years.
  • Among them were six 10-year-olds arrested for possession and 53 11-year-olds taken into custody for either possession or intent to sell.
  • The Metropolitan Police, the biggest force, said 3,592 under-16s were arrested for drugs offences, including 14 aged 11 or under.
  • The youngest children arrested for intending to supply included two 11-year-olds held in Plymouth with amphetamines and cannabis. In Essex, an 11-year-old found in possession of suspected cannabis told officers he planned to sell it.
  • Avon and Somerset, Humberside, Essex, West Mercia, West Midlands and the Met each held a 10-year-old for possession.
Bedfordshire police reported that several teenagers had been arrested for dealing class-A drugs, including four 15-year-olds accused of supplying crack cocaine. No children under ten were arrested because they are too young to be charged with criminal offences.
Martin Barnes, of charity DrugScope, said: "These figures underline the importance of early intervention when young people are in trouble or experiencing problems at home or school."
Source: Agency
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