A survey of 24 police forces responding to a Guardian newspaper survey has shown that arrests of under 18s for possession with intent to supply and supplying drugs increased from 1,639 to 2,097 [28%] in the four years from 2013 to 2017.
Worryingly arrests for under 16 years olds nearly doubled in the same period from 157 to 312. The increase in arrests for minors at a time when overall drug related arrests are falling across the UK is thought to be related to the increase in 'county lines' or 'going country' drug dealing where urban gangs move drugs between inner city hubs like Manchester, London and Liverpool and provincial areas like Brighton, Norfolk and Devon.
Children as young as 12 are being arrested for intent to supply heroin and cocaine.
Last year the National Crime Agency said that county lines drug dealing was out of control with more than 700 operations being identified during the year. They also expressed concern about the amount of violence associated with county lines.