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Last Updated: Tuesday, 11 January 2005, 09:26 GMT
Drugs: Facts behind the fiction
All the drama-documentaries in the IF series are based on rigorous journalism and research.

Here are just some facts surrounding the issues of recreational drug use and legalisation in the UK.

  • IF... DRUGS WERE LEGAL
    BBC Two
    Wednesday, 12 January, 2005
    2100 GMT

    Around four million people use illicit drugs each year in England and Wales.

  • There are an estimated 281,125 problem drug users in England and Wales.
    (Source: Home Office - "The Economic and Social Cost of Class A Drug Use in England and Wales", 2000)

  • In England in 2003, 42% of 11-15 year olds had been offered one or more drugs.

  • The number of heroin users doubled every four years during the 1990s.
    (Source: Centre for Reform - "Heroin. The Failure of Prohibition and What To Do Now", 2001)

  • Afghanistan is the source of 70% of the world's heroin supplies and 90% of heroin used in the UK each year.

  • The UK is believed to consume approximately 25 to 35 tonnes of heroin a year.
    (Source: National Criminal Intelligence Service, UK Threat Assessment 2003)

  • As at June 2003, fewer than 500 people were prescribed heroin on the NHS - just 1% of heroin users in treatment.

  • The Swiss heroin clinics resulted in a net economic benefit of 45 Swiss francs per patient per day, after taking into account the extra cost of running the clinics and the savings in the criminal justice bill.
    (Source: Ambros Uchetenhagen, Programme for a Medical Prescription of Narcotics, Swiss Federal Office of Public Health, 1997)

  • In 2002 the UK had the highest level of drug related deaths in Europe.
    (Source: Drug Scope report for the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction 2002-03)

  • The number of deaths from opiate overdoses in England and Wales has more than doubled recently, from less than 400 in 1993 to nearly 1,000 in 2000.
    (Source: "Prescribing Heroin. What is the Evidence?", Joseph Rowntree Foundation, 2003, p12)

  • The total economic and social cost of Class A drug use was estimated in 2000 to be between 10.1 to 17.4 billion.
    (Source: Home Office study - "The Economic and Social Cost of Class A Drug Use in England and Wales", 2000)

  • 280,000 problem drug users cause around half of all crime.

  • 50% of people in custody and awaiting trial admitted they were dependent on a drug.
    (Source: "Prescribing Heroin, What is the Evidence?", Joseph Rowntree Foundation, 2003)

  • 124,350 drug seizures - with a street value of 789m - were made in the UK in 2000.

  • In 2002, 343 Class A drug trafficking or money laundering groups were dismantled or disrupted, up 10% on 2000/01.
    (Source: Home Office - Updated Drug Strategy, 2002)

  • 18.9 million in drug-related assets were recovered from criminals by the Concerted Inter-Agency Drugs Action group in 2002, up 20% on 2000/01.
    (Source: Home Office - Updated Drug Strategy, 2002)



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