Drug Arrests For Under 18s Fall 42% In Norwich

Drug arrests of young people fell in Norwich from 81 in 2018 to just 47 in 2019, down from a peak of 84 in 2017.

By Wilf, 14, Norwich · April 9, 2020

Pic: Shutterstock

Arrests of under 18s for the possession or selling of drugs in Norwich dropped from 81 in 2018 to just 47 in 2019, as of mid-December.

Charges for supplying a controlled drug nearly halved from 2018 to 2019, from 32 charges to just 17. Charges for possession of a Class A drug remained consistent, with five charges.

Possession of a Class B or C drug fell from 24 to 17 charges. Possession with intent to supply charges across all drugs also dropped drastically, from 20 charges in 2018 to just eight charges in 2019. 

The fall is even starker when compared to 2017 data, where 84 charges were made. That year, there were 27 possession with intent to supply Class A drugs arrests, compared to just five in 2019.

In Norfolk as a whole, the Eastern Daily Press reported that around 240 young people were arrested for drug-related offences over 2018 and 2019 combined. 

Paul Webb, participation youth work manager at Norwich charity Mancroft Advice Project MAP, told the paper that the figures were “directly related to County Lines and culture of drug gangs, which has been on the rise in recent years. Norfolk being a rural location was slow to be targeted for County Lines but equally our response as a county was also slow and perhaps complacent.”

In December 2016, Operation Gravity was launched by the council, aimed at the disruption and prevention of County Lines in the county. The Norfolk Constabulary states on their website that “more than 650 people have been arrested” and a “large quantity of Class A drugs and cash has also been seized.”

With regards to the Operation’s approach towards protecting young people, the website continues: “Officers from the Constabulary’s Safer Schools Partnership have also played a role in preventing young people becoming involved in county lines drug dealing. A play has toured 64 high schools across the county educating young people about the risks and consequences of drug crime. Officers have seen many cases within the last year where young people have been exploited and used to transport drugs. The performance explores these issues and also urges anyone who may know of someone at risk to come forward.”

Why did a student choose to cover this story?

Wilf, 14, from Norwich, said: “I chose this topic because I think that people in my local area should know what is happening in our community. It is important to me because it is affecting people my age or even younger, and I want to spread the information to help people to learn about this and to educate those who may be unaware of the issue.

How did the answers make our journalist feel?

“The answers I got back made me feel scared for my local community’ safety because some of the numbers were quite worrying.”