Huge rise in children with drugs

POLICE in Suffolk have seen a 942 per cent increase in the number of children found in possession of drugs in the last three years, The Evening Star can reveal today.

POLICE in Suffolk have seen a 942 per cent increase in the number of children found in possession of drugs in the last three years, The Evening Star can reveal today.

Figures released under the Freedom of Information Act show that 125 under 18s were caught with drugs in 2005, compared with just 12 in 2002.

The majority of cases involve possession of cannabis but others include class A drugs offences and the production of cannabis - with one 14-year-old convicted of the latter offence last year.

He was found cultivating one plant using a special strip light at his home in Ipswich and was convicted of the offence at South East Suffolk Magistrates' Court in November.


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Today's figures follow an Evening Star investigation focusing on the number of teenage drug users in Suffolk with stories from parents concerned that cannabis is destroying the lives of their teens.

Some have questioned the government's decision to declassify the drug from class B to class C drug in 2004 while others have said there is not enough support available to users.

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Tibbs Pinter, substance misuse officer for Ipswich, said: “There does appear to be a more frequent use of cannabis among young people and I think it has increased with declassification.”

Mr Pinter said the increase in youngsters found in possession of drugs could be attributed to police and council officials targeting under 18s.

He said in Ipswich drugs dogs had been used in areas such as the church yard at St Margaret's Church, where teens had been gathering to smoke cannabis.

Detective Chief Inspector Debbie Griffiths of Suffolk police said: “We treat the misuse of substances extremely seriously across the county. This is especially the case where young people are concerned.

“Although in the majority of these cases the lower class of drug, such as cannabis, is involved we will continue to target those individuals who do not obey the law.

“Over the past two years tackling drugs in Suffolk has been a key priority and intelligence from the public has improved.”

This year the number of youngsters arrested has remained steady with 30 teenagers arrested between January 1 and March 30.

And Simon Aalders, Suffolk's Drug Alcohol and Action Team (DAAT) co-ordinator, said: “Arresting someone is not the end of the story. It does give the young person the opportunity to turn away from a drug-using lifestyle and engage with us in meaningful and rewarding activities such as Positive Futures (a sports based social inclusion project).”

Do you have a story of young people's lives being affected by drugs? Write in to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN or e-mail eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk

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