Police are trying to crack down on gangs recruiting young children to transport drugs across the United Kingdom. An investigation on a drug peddling ring in West Yorkshire led to the arrest of the youngest drug dealer in Britain. The seven-year-old child was among other underage individuals under investigation. Being under the age of criminal responsibility, the child will not face any criminal charges.

It was revealed by the West Yorkshire Police that they had arrested a seven-year-old boy in 2019 for drug possession. The police did not confirm which narcotics he was in possession of. However, it was revealed that the child intended to sell the drugs which were found in his possession. He was among a number of other children detained by the police under the suspicion of drug dealing.

After his arrest, the police informed the social services of the situation. The child's age allows him to get away from the arrest without any criminal charges. In the UK, the minimum age for an individual to be charged for a crime is 10. Evading criminal charges, the unnamed child will be under the watch of social services as well as the police.

According to The Sun, a poll indicated that 2,380 children under the age of 17 were arrested in 36 of 44 forces in England and Wales. It also indicated that in 2018, the number of arrested minors was 1,964.

The Daily Mail reported that Country Lines gangs are to be held responsible for the growing number of children performing criminal activities.

In 2019, London saw the highest number of underage arrests with 553 individuals detained. Among those detained was a 12-year-old held for dealing cocaine. Five 13-year-olds were also arrested for peddling heroin and crack.

Anastasia De Waal,of children's charity "I Can Be," pointed out that the gangs target vulnerable children to exploit them. The vulnerable children are led down a life of crime by these gangs which recruit them. De Wall believes that the gangs would stop hiring youngsters if the penalty for the exploitation of children for criminal gain was severe.

Panama drugs
Gangs are hiring young children to transport and distribute drugs. (representational image) Arnulfo Franco/ AP