for The Scottsman
May 18, 2006
THE number of
children with drug problems has gone up by 400 per
cent since Labour came to power, new figures
2004-5 418 under-16 year-olds were referred to the
Scottish drug misuse database (SDMD) compared with
106 in 1996-97.
The figures follow a
case in which an 11-year-old girl collapsed in
school from smoking heroin.
Experts said there is
a growing problem among children and called for more
Executive claims the figures are due to improved
Hugh Henry, the
deputy justice minister, revealed the number of
patients or clients reporting to SDMD has risen
every year since 1997 in a parliamentary question.
In 2004-5 the local authority to report the most
children was Glasgow with 88, followed by 46 in
North Lanarkshire and 36 in the Highlands.
professor of drug misuse research at the University
said: "These figures
are shocking and they underline the reason why we
need in Scotland substance abuse services that are
appropriate for children at a much earlier stage."
David Liddell, the
director of the Scottish Drugs Forum, also argued
for specialist drug services for children.
"There has been
progress in services, but I think there is a need
for a closer look to make sure each area has
appropriate services for younger age groups," he
the justice spokeswoman for the Tories in Scotland,
said the figures confirm the "breadth and severity
of the problem".
The Executive has
admitted drug use among children is a problem, but
says work is ongoing to tackle it. A spokesman said
the sudden increase is partly because of better
reporting of problems and more services available to
help young people.