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Children Deal Drugs 2006-09-16

Posted by clype in Health, Scotland, Statistics.

Children (one as young as ten) have been caught dealing drugs on Scotland’s streets, police figures reveal.

Data released by police forces shows more than 6 000 youngsters in Scotland — and 50 000 across the UK — were picked up for possessing illegal substances in the past three years. North of the border, that works out at almost six youngsters per day caught with drugs.

Police said they were increasing their efforts to divert children away from drugs, but warned that dealers and manufacturers were consciously marketing illegal substances towards young people.

In the Strathclyde area, nearly 5 000 youngsters aged 16 and under were caught in possession of drugs between 2003/2004 and 2005/2006. Some 105 were caught dealing or possessing dealer — amounts of drugs, including one 10-year-old, one 11-year-old, one 12-year-old and seven 13-year-olds.

The National Drugs Co-ordinator for The Scottish Crime and Drug Enforcement Agency (SCDEA) Ms.Gill Wood, said the manufacturers of illegal drugs were printing child-friendly symbols such as Smurf characters on pills to entice young people.

‘What we are seeing is a market for drugs in our younger age group. Certain types of drugs are clearly being marketed for youngsters, such as ecstasy and LSD.’

Lothian and Borders Police picked up a nine-year-old in the Livingston area for possessing drugs. In the same force area, 13 children aged 12 were involved in supplying drugs, while eight were picked up for possession.

Ms.Wood said most children involved in drugs were being introduced to narcotics by family members and friends.

‘It is interesting that in the 1980s there was an explosion in the use of heroin, and now we have thousands of children who are being brought up in households where parents are addicted to drugs. What we need to do is break this cycle.’

  • An estimated 50 000 children in Scotland have at least one parent addicted to drugs.

Other police officers across Scotland also said they were aware of cases where children were being used as ‘runners’ by adult drug-dealers to carry heroin and other substances.

‘It would be naïve to say that never happens,’ said Chief Inspector Mr.David Kirkland, community safety officer for Strathclyde Police.

‘Drugs are a feature of wider society, and there are various avenues and opportunities through which children are getting involved.

‘These statistics clearly show there is a problem. But it also appears the number of children being caught has gone down in the past three years, which perhaps shows that drug-education programmes are bearing fruit.’

Mr.Harry Shapiro, of the charity Drugscope, said:

‘It’s a bit like New York in the 80s, when crack came on to the market and dealers found themselves with a willing and able young workforce.

‘To a large extent these kids will be gophers and runners — and it’s difficult for the police to be able to do anything about it.’

Earlier this week, The Scotsman Newspaper revealed the problem had prompted headteachers and Scotland’s leading drug-misuse expert to call for random drug-testing in schools. But ministers claimed there was ‘no appetite’ for the move, while the government’s advisory body on the misuse of drugs ruled on Thursday that the policy was unethical.

The figures sparked calls last night from opposition politicians for more money to be ploughed into alternative pursuits for young people.

The Justice Spokesman of The Scottish National Party (SNP) Mr.Kenny Macaskill, said:

Kenny Macaskill
‘Obviously we need to tackle not just the question of the children, but the parent. There have to be questions about what parents are doing. We need to make it quite clear that drugs are unacceptable — those caught with them will face punishment. But we need to address demand as well as supply. Why are children getting involved in drugs?

‘We need to provide alternatives — sports, arts, music — to allow kids to be all they can be.’

The figures, released to ‘Channel 4 News’ under freedom of information legislation, showed that, across the UK, four ten-year-olds were picked up by police for selling drugs: in Lancashire, Worcestershire, Kent and Strathclyde. In most other areas the ages for the youngest dealers were 11 or 12.

In 2005-6 across the UK, more than 6 000 young people were caught selling drugs.

A spokesman for ‘The Scottish Executive’ said:

‘Drug dealers don’t care about the fear and misery they cause. That is why the SCDEA and police forces across Scotland have been continuing to step up enforcement. We have supported those efforts with money taken from the pockets of dealers themselves.’

She said that on Thursday, the ‘Drug Dealers Don’t Care’ campaign, which last year resulted in the arrest of 428 dealers and the seizure of more than 1.5 million GBP worth of drugs and cash, was relaunched.

‘That is why 99 per cent of schools in Scotland provide drug education. The Executive also continues to publicise the potentially harmful risks of drug-use through our ongoing “Know the Score” campaign.’

  • Six of Scotland’s crime blackspots are to be the focus of a ‘shop a drug dealer’ campaign, it was announced yesterday. The crackdown, financed by assets seized from criminals, is the latest phase of the ‘Drug Dealers Don’t Care’ campaign.

The areas targeted include the Holyrood and Muirhouse areas of Edinburgh.



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