MORE than ten per cent of all people arrested by North Yorkshire Police for drug offences last year were under the age of 18.

Figures released by police under the Freedom Of Information Act showed 96 out of the 1,036 arrests for drug offences made in 2013 were aged under 17, with the youngest being just 13-years-old.

On a positive note, the number of drug arrests was down in 2013 on previous years, from 1,211 in 2012, 1,320 in 2011 and 1,255 in 2010, but the ratio of under-18s remained roughly similar.

In 2012, 119 of 1,211 drug arrests involved children aged between 13 and 17. In 2011, 138 of 1,320 were aged 13 to 17, and in 2010, 132 of 1,255 drug arrests were aged under 18 - with the youngest arrested aged just 11.

A spokeswoman for North Yorkshire Police said the figures showed not only that access to drugs was not limited to adults, but reinforced the fact that everyone had a duty of care to deal with this behaviour.

She said: “Sadly, children do have access to drugs and it’s important that intervention is made at an early age to prevent them from getting caught up in criminality which is often associated with drugs. North Yorkshire Police work with a number of organisations to identify children at risk and drive forward effective initiatives to identify, assess and support those children at the earliest opportunity.

“This approach includes actively engaging with the young person and their family as well as working innovatively with partners within the criminal justice system and other agencies to maximise early intervention and prevention approaches, with the aim of diverting children away from a life of crime to become responsible members of society.

"We all have a duty of care – from parents and professionals to the wider community - to ensure our young people grow up in a nurturing and positive environment and go on to become law-abiding adults.”