Cannabis Use Among Young Offenders Rockets By 75%

The number of young criminals using cannabis has shot up since Labour downgraded the drug’s legal status, it emerged yesterday.

Figures suggest that use of cannabis among juvenile offenders has roughly doubled in three years.

In some parts of the country that means nine out of ten teenage criminals have been using the drug.

Links between cannabis and crime have been causing concern since former Home Secretary David Blunkett decided to label it a Class C drug rather than Class B – a switch that meant police are highly unlikely to arrest anyone caught with it.

That 2004 decision appears to have intensified use of cannabis among the youngest criminals.

Yesterday’s figures come from a survey for local Youth Offending Teams, which run probation and attempt reform of teenage criminals.

Its estimates show that use of cannabis has increased by between 25 and 75 per cent since 2004.

Darren Johson, of the Association of Youth Offending Team Managers, said that in some areas cannabis use was “out of control”.

A Home Office spokesman said there had been a steady fall in cannabis use across all age ranges.