More children than ever are taking drugs, according to new data compiled by the National Health Service.
NHS data shows that the number of 11 to 15-year-olds taking drugs has risen sharply in the last two years.
Twenty five per cent of kids now say they have taken drugs such as cannabis, crack and cocaine, compared to around 15 per cent in 2014.
’Very real problem’
Young people also admitted to taking new psychoactive substances – formerly known as legal highs.
The data, based on a survey of around 12,000 pupils at 177 schools across England, found that boys were slightly more likely to take drugs than girls.
Commenting on the survey, Anastasia de Waal, Deputy Director of think tank Civitas, said: “Drugs are still a very real problem in this country. These figures starkly reveal the very young age of those affected.”
She added, “drugs are blighting young people’s lives as well as fuelling crime”.
On the same day the statistics emerged, coleader of the Green Party Caroline Lucas MP called for the law to be liberalised to allow so-called ‘drug rooms’.
Lucas wants to permit “drug consumption rooms”, where people who use drugs can “inject or inhale illicit substances without fear of prosecution”.
In July, the Government categorically refused to let local authorities introduce drug consumption rooms.
At the time, Tommy Cairns, a former addict from Halifax in West Yorkshire, said: “Whoever came up with the idea has never been addicted to drugs.
I used to take six bags of heroin a day, I got imprisoned for four and a half years for dealing, and let me tell you, a consumption room wouldn’t have helped me.
“Abstinence from all drugs is the only way to begin recovery.”