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700 youngsters arrested on drugs offences in Norfolk

PUBLISHED: 08:26 17 March 2010 | UPDATED: 08:54 02 July 2010

Sarah Hall

Almost 700 young people in Norfolk have been arrested for dealing or possessing drugs in the past four years - but police say pioneering projects are helping slash the number of children spiralling into substance misuse.

Almost 700 young people in Norfolk have been arrested for dealing or possessing drugs in the past four years - but police say pioneering projects are helping slash the number of children spiralling into substance misuse.

A Freedom Of Information request to Norfolk police has revealed that 693 under 18-year-olds were caught with drugs such as cannabis, cocaine, ecstasy and heroin between 2006 and 2009.

The statistics reveal that children as young as 12 have been arrested on suspicion of dealing heroin and ecstasy, but the number of young people caught was cut last year to 141, compared to 249 the year before.

Police credited the countywide partnership working, including the recently created Matthew Project under 18s service, with helping to steer young people away from drugs and keep the number of children arrested low in Norfolk.

However, the statistics do show some alarming examples. In 2007, a 12-year-old from the Norwich area was charged with dealing heroin, in 2006 a 12-year-old and a 13-year-old in Great Yarmouth were charged with dealing ecstasy and in 2008 a 12-year-old in Norwich was reprimanded for possessing cannabis.

Police hailed the recently created Matthew Project under-18s service, a team of drug and alcohol workers which helps young people in Norfolk.

Workers from the project, which is based at Norwich's Open youth venue in Bank Plain, provide lessons and assemblies focussed on drugs and alcohol, and a number of Norfolk police officers support them through the Safer Schools Partnership.

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