CHILDREN as young as eight are being used by gangs to carry out drug dealing in the capital.
Gardai are said to be "alarmed" at the young age of children found openly participating in the dealing of drugs and prescription medicines. Schoolchildren have been observed carrying out the work of drug dealers at Luas stops (inset) and other "hot spots" in Dublin. An extensive report on anti-social behaviour found that many youths are displaying a "lack of fear" in carrying out drug dealing and other crimes. It found that drug dealers are using children on bicycles as one of a number of ways to escape gardai.
"The responses of drug gangs to increased garda presence included the use of children on bicycles, the Luas and reduced carrying of drugs," the study states.The study, which involved the City Council and Gardai, details the huge levels of intimidation and violence on the streets of the capital."There's no doubt drug dealers are employing children of a very young age to do their dirty work. It's one option they have in their bid to escape officers on the beat," a policing source confirmed to the Herald.
Those interviewed for the study, Rapid Assessment Research of Drug and Alcohol-related Public Nuisance in Dublin City Centre, pointed to the "detrimental effect" the Luas is having in terms of the drug trade.
One community activist is quoted as saying: "The Luas is a fantastic service, but for bringing problems into the north inner-city it has a detrimental effect. The dealers don't need to bring cars into town, they have free transport everywhere."
Deputy Lord Mayor Cllr Clare Byrne told the Herald today that "these gangs go to any lengths and to get as much money for drugs".
"If you are a kid and you are getting €50 or more to drop some drugs around to a house, that is a lot of money for a young kid.
"Kids are vulnerable, they are easy targets," the Fine Gael representative said.
Cllr Byrne said that drug dealers are aware that they can circumvent the law when it comes to drugs searches.
"Children are so innocent and the last person a garda is going to stop is a kid," she said.
"These drug dealers know that there is a loophole that they can't search young children.
She added: "The Love/Hate programme -- most of it was shot in the south west city and it is the norm."
According to the report, gangs are also making greater use of mobile phones as they attempt to evade anti-drug officers.
Business owners and members of the public have been subject to widespread intimidation and violence on both sides of the city, says the study.
After conducting surveys with business owners and other stakeholders in the city, the authors stated that a "lack of fear" was detected among children used by drug dealers in their bid to go undetected.
"Service users and community, voluntary and statutory respondents observed a lack of fear in children and youth engaging in drug dealing and anti social behaviour, and attributed this to a lack of positive Garda relations in certain communities."
A number of city stakeholders, such as business owners, drug treatment centres, homeless agencies, Dublin City Council, the gardaí and drug task forces, were brought together to conduct the study.
An analysis of Garda Pulse records revealed that some 6,663 individual crimes were detected over 14 months.
Some 2,872 crimes were recorded on the O'Connell Street area -- the highest number in any one location across the city.
Some 44pc of the crimes related to property, while 35pc related to public order offences.
O'Connell Street was followed by Temple Bar where 1,346 crimes took place between December 2010 and January.
And the Grafton Street area came third, where 1,053 crimes occurred.