Children as young as 11 caught with illegal drugs in Suffolk schools
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Children as young as 11 have been caught with drugs in Suffolk schools over the last five years, figures have revealed.
Almost 100 cases have been reported to police since 2015.
The majority (69%) involved cannabis possession – but five of 22 children caught with drugs last year were found with MDMA (ecstasy), while one was caught with crack cocaine.
Four of 98 cases since 2015 were recorded at primary schools, with three at pupil referral units.
The youngest child involved was an 11-year-old in 2018.
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About one in 10 cases involved supplying or offering to supply drugs.
Data was released by 23 forces, including Suffolk, to the PA news agency, which found a 27.5% increase nationwide since 2016.
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Former head of King Edward VI School, in Bury St Edmunds, and now general secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders, Geoff Barton said it was rare for drugs to be taken into schools, but that trends reflected society and that schools were concerned about the coercion of vulnerable young people into ‘county lines’ activity.
Inspector Andrew Martin said: “Drug use and associated criminal activity can cause real damage in our communities and it’s clearly important that we are able to reach young people, engage with them about the real issues they might face and offer clear advice and guidance about what to do.”
Police recently launched a tailored ‘OneCopStop’ initiative – delivered in schools to address subjects like drugs, knife crime and online safety.
Insp Martin said the small number of cases remained stable and that police were working hard to keep young people safe.
Mary Evans, Suffolk’s head of children’s services, education and skills, said the county council worked proactively with school leaders and the police, and was absolutely committed to doing all it could to tackle drug use among young people.
She added: “We know through our close working relationship with school leaders that they take such incidents very seriously and a number of teams from across the council’s services offer support to children, families and school staff in addressing substance misuse.
“This support is provided by Turning Point, who are skilled in providing specific support for drug and alcohol information as well as health education.”