Child drug dealers on the rise

WORRYING figures today revealed that 85 children aged 15 or under were either arrested, cautioned or charged for dealing drugs in Suffolk during the last five years.

WORRYING figures today revealed that 85 children aged 15 or under were either arrested, cautioned or charged for dealing drugs in Suffolk during the last five years.

The statistics, which have come to light following a Freedom of Information request, also show that the majority of those youngsters had been involved in supplying Class A substances.

The figures have been released by Suffolk Constabulary and relate to the five-year period between 2003 and 2007.

Of the 85 cases, 37 were in relation to Class A drugs, including crack cocaine and heroin, 16 were in relation to Class B, and 25 were in relation to Class C.

Today's revelation follows an Evening Star report last month which found that detectives leading the war on drugs in Ipswich were being forced to contend with an army of teenage dealers.

In the last three years alone, 159 youngsters have been convicted of drugs offences in the county.

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Meanwhile, of the 289 arrests made under Operation Academy - a major crackdown on hard drugs in Suffolk - 38 per cent were of dealers aged 21 or under.

In one particularly disturbing example, a 15-year-old was convicted of dealing cocaine with a street value of a staggering £7,000.

Detective chief inspector Mark Jepson, the senior detective leading Operation Academy, a crackdown on London dealers plying their trade in Ipswich, said: “Of those aged under 21 who have been arrested for dealing, 62pc have travelled to Ipswich to sell Class A drugs.

“There are a small percentage of young people who see drugs as a way of providing themselves with a quick-rich lifestyle.

“However, you could almost class some of these youngsters as victims.

“It's sad that some young people put themselves in a position where they feel they have no option, although if it's pure greed, I don't have any sympathy because they know the risks.”

A recent report published by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation found that scores of teens were earning more than £450 a week dealing heroin and crack cocaine.

Are drugs blighting your community? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN or e-mail eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk

Age break down:

2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 Total

13 years old 7 1 3 1 1 13

14 years old 8 1 5 5 3 22

15 years old 12 5 11 14 8 50

Total 27 7 19 20 12 85

Drug break down:

2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 Total

Class A 12 1 10 6 8 37

Class B 14 2 - - - 16

Class C 1 4 9 7 4 25

Unknown - - - 7 - 7

Total 27 7 19 20 12 85