A seven-year-old boy will not be charged for being among thousands of children who have been arrested by police on suspicion of drug dealing in the United Kingdom.
He was detained for being in possession with intent to supply an unspecified narcotic by police in West Yorkshire last year, The Sun reports.
Social services were informed of the arrest and the boy was not charged as he was under the age of 10, the legal age of criminal responsibility in England and Wales.
Figures from the National Crime Agency (NCA) suggest that more than 4,000 children and young people were recruited by ‘county lines’ drug gangs in London alone in 2019. Gangs use children and teenagers to transport drugs and cash from the capital to regional towns.
They target vulnerable young people suffering as a result of poverty, family breakdown, school exclusion, drug addiction or learning difficulties.
A recent parliamentary report warned that county lines gangs were also preying on children’s homes in target locations to gain new recruits.
The Sun claims that a poll of police forces found 2,380 under-17s were arrested in 36 of 44 forces in England and Wales last year. Many were held on suspicion of dealing Class A drugs, some were just 12 or 13 and may have been recruited at a younger age.
Anastasia De Waal, of children’s charity I Can Be, said the recruitment of children by drugs gangs ‘is stealing childhoods’ and ‘setting vulnerable youngsters up for years of criminality’.
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