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Last Updated: Monday, 22 May 2006, 17:27 GMT 18:27 UK
Drugs 'blight most parts of UK'
pie chart
Three-quarters of people in the UK say drugs are a problem in their area, according to a BBC survey.

More than half of the 1,190 people surveyed by ICM also said they thought the police were not doing enough to combat the drugs problem.

Police sources told the BBC a drugs "hit" in some parts of the country costs less than a pint of beer.

Ecstasy pills can be bought for as little as 1 - while a gramme of cocaine can cost just 40.

The BBC's survey suggested there were big regional variations in drug use, with 26% in the South East saying they had taken an illegal drug compared with just 6% in Northern Ireland.

'Tackling supply'

Drugs minister Vernon Coaker said drug-related crime had gone down by 12% across the country.

But he added: "In some communities there are still problems and we are determined to tackle that and we won't rest until we have."

He said the government was "determined to bring peace and stability to all of our streets".

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On the price of drugs, he said: "The important thing for us is to disrupt the supply and that's why we are working with the serious and organised supply agency to ensure that we tackle the supply of drugs onto our streets.

"They are working hard with neighbourhood policing teams, they are working hard with the new powers we have given them, to tackle that supply."

Some 16% of people questioned in the BBC survey said they had used an illegal drug, with 37% of that number saying they had used cocaine.

Cocaine

Among those in the AB social class - defined as professionals and middle managers - who said they had taken drugs, 26% said they had used cocaine.

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The only way to hit the drugs trade is to hit dealers hard
Bill Munns, Ely, UK

But that increased to 46% among members of the C1 social class - defined as office workers and junior managers.

There were also marked differences between the regions, with the Midlands topping the cocaine use league, with 41% of drug users saying they had tried it, followed by the South East on 35%.

Only 20% of 18 to 25-year-olds admitted they had taken illegal drugs, compared with 32% of 25 to 34-year-olds.

Martin Barnes, chief executive of Drugscope, said: "The survey shows that illegal drug use is around three times higher among professional and managerial classes compared with the semi or unskilled.

"The fact that around 1 in 20 adults have ever used cocaine is consistent with the findings from the annual British Crime Survey.

"Despite cocaine's reputation as the drug of choice for the rich and better off, amongst this survey's respondents its use is in fact highest among the middle socio-economic groups."


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