Live updates

Advertisement

Brit jailed for 9 years for carrying drugs worth £3 in UAE

A British student, who claims he was tortured by police after being arrested in the United Arab Emirates, has been jailed for nine years for possessing cocaine worth £3.

Ahmad Zeidan, 20, from Berkshire, claims he was tortured into signing a confession after being arrested in December.

Ahmad Zeidan, 20, claims he was tortured into signing a confession Credit: Reprieve

"I was made to sign documents in Arabic, a language which I cannot not read nor write. I now understand that I am being charged with possession of a narcotic substance with the intention to traffic," Mr Zeidan said in a statement.

Kate Higham, an investigator with the legal charity Reprieve, described the conviction at a hearing in Dubai as "the result of a shockingly flawed trial process.""The UAE must urgently reconsider Ahmad's case, while the British government must do all it can to push for his release," she said.

Mr Zeidan claims he was held incommunicado for several days when he was hooded, beaten, and threatened with rape.

The drugs - 0.04g of cocaine with a British street value of about £3 - were found in a bag in a glove compartment.

A Foreign Office spokesman said: "We are aware that a British National has received a custodial sentence in the United Arab Emirates. We are providing consular assistance."

Advertisement

Hundreds of under-12's 'referred for drug treatment'

The Press Association have approached councils across the UK and found children as young as four being referred by education and children's services to alcohol and drug specialists.

In the Freedom of Information request, more than half of under-13s - 59% - received treatment for cannabis misuse, while a third were treated for alcohol misuse.

A small number abused solvents.

A bedroom at a treatment centre for drug addicts and alcoholics. Credit: PA/PA Archive

Eight-year-olds had been referred to services in Waltham Forest and East Ayrshire, while nine-year-olds had been referred in Herefordshire, Liverpool, Oxfordshire, Rutland, the Scottish Borders and West Berkshire.

Authorities in Bury, Calderdale, Halton, Hull, Monmouthshire and Rochdale had seen 10-year-olds referred.

Some 366 children aged 12 or under were referred for treatment in 2012/13 in England, according to the most recent figures from Public Health England, compared with 433 in 2011/12.

UK needs 'urgent improvements in child health services'

Steve McCabe, shadow minister for children and families said he was "shocked" by findings stating children as young as four are being referred to drug treatment centres in the UK.

He said: "The government's current strategy towards drugs isn't working. This highlights the need for an urgent improvement in children and adolescent mental health services".

Government needs 'a proper strategy to deal' with the challenges of growing up. Credit: REUTERS/Lewis Whyld/Pool

McCabe continued by saying a previous Home Affairs Select Committee set up "was interested in the way Portugal manages drug problems" and that there needs to be a "proper strategy to deal with many of the challenges of growing up."

Senior MP 'shocked' at report on child drug use

The head of the influential House of Commons home affairs committee says he is "deeply concerned" at an investigation showing children as young as four are being treated for drug and alcohol misuse.

Labour MP Keith Vaz called on parents to do more to prevent risks to their children.

"It is right that these youngsters receive the appropriate help but we must look at the source of their problems," he said.

"It is vital that parents take responsibility and additional support is given to them in order to prevent children being exposed to drugs and alcohol in the first place."

'Vital' to improve children's drug and alcohol education

It is "vital" to improve education programmes to stop young children having to be treated for drug and alcohol misuse, charities have said.

A survey by Mentor UK, who works to protect children from drug and alcohol misuse, suggested youngsters are not getting enough information.

The charity's director of programmes, Andrew Brown, said:

"We think it is vital that alcohol and drug education improve. Our own survey of teachers suggests that at the moment delivery is inconsistent, and that the norm is to timetable only one or two sessions a year.

Load more updates