A BOY aged seven has become Britain’s youngest ever drug dealer.
The child was held for possession with intent to supply an unspecified narcotic.
His arrest was recorded and social services informed.
He could not be charged as he was under ten — the legal age of criminal responsibility.
The boy, from West Yorks, was among a host of children held on suspicion of drug dealing last year.
Our poll of police forces found 2,380 under-17s were arrested in 36 of 44 forces in England and Wales, meaning the total — 1,964 in 2018 — is likely to be nearer 3,000.
The sharp rise is thought to be driven by county lines gangs which use children to peddle drugs across force borders to avoid detection.
Many were held on suspicion of dealing Class A drugs such as heroin and cocaine.
Some were 12 or 13 and may have been recruited younger.
London saw most arrests with 553, including a 12-year-old suspected cocaine dealer and five thought to have sold heroin or crack aged 13.
Sussex police with 149 and the West Mids (142) came next.
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Anastasia De Waal, of children’s charity I Can Be, said: “We’re seeing a troubling trend. It is stealing childhoods, as well as all too often setting vulnerable youngsters up for years of criminality.”
She wants the penalties for using kids in crime to outweigh any benefits for the gangs.
Barnardo’s said: “Children who are dealing drugs have often been abused and exploited, and need safeguarding.”