Closed petition Make it a specific offence to expose a child to any amount of Class A drug

The Government should introduce a specific offence to help stop children passing away with class A drugs in their blood stream. Children are being failed by current legislation, which does not make allowing this to happen a specific offence.

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People who were responsible for a child do not necessarily face prosecution even if Class A drugs are found in a child’s blood. We need to focus on the fact that no level is acceptable. Children should be safeguarded from this happening.

This petition is closed All petitions run for 6 months

18,666 signatures

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100,000

Government responded

This response was given on 23 September 2021

Protecting children from harm is a priority for government. However, we have no plans to make it a specific offence to expose a child to a Class A drug, as existing offences already apply.

It is an offence under section 4 of the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971 to supply a controlled drug (including a Class A drug) to any person, including a person under the age of 18. “Supply” includes, for example, selling or giving. The offence is engaged upon the supply of any amount of controlled drug. It is subject to certain lawful exemptions: for example, where a controlled drug is a medicine that has been lawfully prescribed, or where it is supplied under the terms of a Home Office licence.

In addition, there are existing offences that relate to the protection of children from harm and which would be applicable if a person responsible for a child negligently allowed that child to ingest a controlled drug. For example, section 1 of the Children and Young Persons Act 1933 provides for an offence where a person responsible for a child wilfully assaults, ill-treats neglects, abandons or exposes that child in a manner likely to cause the child unnecessary suffering or injury to health. Further, section 5 of the Domestic Violence, Crime and Victims Act 2004 creates an offence of causing or allowing a child or vulnerable adult to die or suffer serious physical harm. It imposes a duty upon members of a household to take reasonable steps to protect children or vulnerable adults within that household from the foreseeable risk of death or serious physical harm from other household members.

Whilst parents and carers have primary care for their children, local authorities, working with partners, have duties to safeguard and promote the welfare of all children in their area. Under the Children Act 1989, local authorities are required to provide services for children in need for the purposes of safeguarding and promoting their welfare. Section 47 of the 1989 Act requires local authorities to undertake enquiries if they believe a child has suffered or is likely to suffer significant harm. To keep the most vulnerable children safe, a balance of support, risk assessment and timely intervention is needed. The Government’s Working Together to Safeguard Children safeguarding guidance (2018) provides statutory guidance on inter-agency working to safeguard and promote the welfare of children. It clarifies the core legal requirements that individuals and organisations should follow to keep children safe.

In addition to high quality support in universal services, specific local early help services will typically include family and parenting programmes, including around drug or alcohol misuse by an adult or a child.

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Petitions Committee write to the Government regarding overdue response

The Petitions Committee, the group of MPs who consider e-petitions, have written to the Lord Chancellor and Secretary of State for Justice, Robert Buckland QC MP, and the Secretary of State for the Home Department, Priti Patel MP, regarding the overdue Government response for this e-petition.

Government departments are meant to submit a response within -21 days. A response to this petition was first requested on 14 May, but the Government has not responded.

Because this response is now several weeks overdue the Committee has written to the Government to ask for an explanation of the delay, and a response to the petition.

You can read the full letter here: https://committees.parliament.uk/publications/7310/documents/76520/default/

In the letter, the Petitions Committee stress the importance of Government departments providing a prompt response when a petition receives over 10,000 signatures. The letter asks the Ministers to provide a response to the petition and an explanation of the delay by Thursday 23 September.