One In Ten Drug Offenders Is A Child

(Telegraph) – ONE IN TEN drug offenders are children, double the number when Labour first came to power, figures show.

More than 100 youngsters aged under 18 are convicted of drug offences every week, raising concerns of a new generation of criminals.

It comes as separate figures show the equivalent of 35 children a day need hospital treatment for substance abuse, including illegal drugs.

A total of 6,370 teenagers and other children were guilty of drug offences in 2008 compared with 2,749 in 1998.

It is the equivalent of around a tenth of the total 52,664 drug convictions for that year, figures obtained by the Conservatives show.

Almost 13,000 children aged under 16 were admitted to hospital last year for substance abuse, which includes illegal drugs as well as other substances such as glue.

That was a 25 per cent rise since 1998/99 and includes 1,172 aged under ten.

Chris Grayling, the shadow Home Secretary, said: “I just can’t understand how Gordon Brown can be so complacent about the social problems in Britain today.

“What clearer sign can there be of a broken society than thousands of children receiving hospital treatment for substance abuse. More and more children are also facing prosecution for drugs offences.”

A Home Office study yesterday found one in six hardened drug-abusing offenders go on to commit at least five more crimes a year.

One offender was responsible for 42 crimes, the statistics on drug misusing offenders showed.

Overall, 20,934 offenders known to take Class A drugs committed 54,462 offences in 2008/09.

Separate sentencing statistics from the Ministry of Justice found one in seven people caught with a knife or offensive weapons are let off with a caution.

In 2009, some 12,874 offenders were cautioned or sentenced for possession of a bladed article, but only 3,016 were sent to prison.

Some 1,873 were let off with a caution.

However, the figures overall showed a downward trend in the proportion being handed cautions.

Dominic Grieve, the shadow Justice Secretary, said: “Knife offenders should not escape justice with a mere slap on the wrist. Under a Conservative government, if you are caught with a knife you should expect to go to prison.”