Home   Kent   News   Article

Police deal with hundreds of reports of drug offences involving children as We Are With You charity hits out at laws

Kent Police deal with almost 500 reports of drugs offences involving children every year it has emerged – as a charity hits out at stigmatising users.

Data from the force shows between January and October this year, there were 407 reports of drugs offences where the suspect was under 18.

Most of the offences involved cannabis. Picture: Thinkstock Image Library
Most of the offences involved cannabis. Picture: Thinkstock Image Library

This compares to 447 reports in 2021.

The statistics, from a Freedom of Information request, show how in 293 of the cases recorded in the first 10 months of this year, someone was suspected of possessing cannabis.

Another 26 were suspected of dealing the Class B drug.

In 94 of the total reports made this year, the case remains under investigation.

Community resolutions have been reached in the majority of cases (97) - usually this is handed to first time offenders and allows officers to deal with offences in an informal way.


The data shows how the police deal with an average of 470 drugs offences involving children every year.

Since 2018, there have been 1,763 reports involving cannabis, 167 with heroin, and 120 with cocaine.

Eight offences involved a Class C substance known as khat - a leafy plant native to Africa which can be a stimulant when chewed. It was banned in the UK in 2014.

There were also two reports of someone having a psychoactive substance in a custodial institution.

We Are With You is a charity helps young people aged between 10 and 24 on behalf of Kent County Council.

'We've got a long history in this country of thinking that people who use drugs are bad, or stigmatising them'

Nick Hickmott, team leader for the service in the county, says work is carried out on a one-to-one basis with youngsters who are having difficulties with drugs.

The organisation also focuses on educating young people about the effects of drugs, their risks, and the law.

He said: "We always say where drugs are costing you more than money - so they're impacting on other parts of your life - then essentially, it might be time to make some changes.

"There's lots of barriers with young people accessing services around drugs.

"I think first and foremost, in terms of those barriers, it's probably the stigma and judgement that we associate with drugs, particularly illegal drugs.

"We've got a long history in this country of thinking that people who use drugs are bad, or stigmatising them.

"Depending on what drug they use, that stigmatisation can definitely stop young people reaching out for help.

"Also the issues around kind of the punishment model which goes alongside criminalisation of excluding young people from school, or potentially from friendship groups, or families.

"The law around drugs is particularly problematic in the UK; most of our drug laws were formed in 1971 in the Misuse of Drugs Act. That's a long time ago, a lot has changed.

"As a result, that impacts on not just the criminal justice side of drugs, but also the policing of drugs and there's lots of different ways in which the police can deal with an incident if someone's caught in possession of a drug or if someone's dealing drugs and so as a result of that, there's a lot of misinformation out there.

"If we can get into young people really early and get accurate, evidence-based messaging around what drug laws are, things to look out for, things to be aware of, then it stops some of these issues where young people don't actually know that they're breaking the law, or where they don't think they're going to get arrested for having a particular amount of drug and scenarios such as that.

"So education's really key."

Close This site uses cookies. By continuing to browse the site you are agreeing to our use of cookies.Learn More