HC Deb 27 January 1972 vol 829 cc1606-7
21. Mr. Michael McNair-Wilson

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many young persons between the ages of 18 and 21 years were prosecuted for drug offences in the period 1st January, 1970, to 31st December, 1970, and 1st January, 1971, to 31st December, 1971.

Mr. Sharples

In 1970, the latest year for which statistics are available, 4,481 persons aged 18 and under 22 were proceeded against in England and Wales for offences under the Dangerous Drugs Acts, 1965 and 1967, or the Drugs (Prevention of Misuse) Act, 1964.

Mr. McNair-Wilson

I am grateful to my hon. Friend for that reply, but I naturally regret that he cannot give me the figures for 1971. I am sure he will agree that many people wonder whether prosecutions for drug offences tell us the whole truth about drug-taking habits among young people. Since I fear that the new figures may be higher, may I ask whether my hon. Friend has considered calling a meeting of educationists, youth club organisers and the police to formulate new ways of making the drug danger apparent to young people and to find out where they get their supplies?

Mr. Sharples

This will be one of the functions of the Drugs Advisory Council which has just been set up. It was Parliament's decision that it should be given an educational as well as a preventive rôle. I hope that it will take into account what my hon. Friend has said.

Mr. Cronin

Does not the hon. Gentleman's reply indicate the extraordinary disparity between the active exertions of the Home Department against the use of drugs and the comparative laxity of the Government regarding tobacco, which is the most dangerous drug of all?

Mr. Sharples

Tobacco may be dangerous but it is not illegal.

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