Almost 17,000 drug searches have been carried out by police on children under the age of 15 in London in just a year, figures have revealed.
Data collected by the London School of Economics show that officers carried out nearly 280,000 drug stop-and-search operations in London in 2010 – half of which were on people aged 21 and under.
A total of 550 of the searches were targeted at those aged under 12.
The figures were cited in a report by Release, the charity, to coincide with the end of a Home Office consultation into the practice. Theresa May, the Home Secretary, is expected to bring forward proposals to limit the amount carried out.
By analysing Freedom of Information requests, the charity said it had been able to establish that drug searches are responsible for more than 50 per cent of all stop-and-search operations, with knives and guns responsible for only 11 per cent of all searches.
The charity said the finding also highlighted the racial inequalities within the justice system. Black people are more than six times more likely to be stopped and searched for drugs than white people.
Niamh Eastwood, of Release, claimed that the use of stop and search was “out of control” and being driven by drugs legislation.