Page last updated at 18:08 GMT, Thursday, 30 October 2008

Cocaine seizures 'highest ever'

Cocaine and a razor blade
Figures suggest 810,000 people in Britain took cocaine last year

Cocaine seizures rose to their highest ever level last year, Home Office statistics have revealed.

There was a 35% rise between 2005 and 2006/7, with numbers exceeding those of heroin for the first time.

Despite this record number, the actual quantity of cocaine seized since 2003 has dropped by 53% to 3.2 tonnes.

Police and customs officers in England and Wales made a record 186,000 seizures. It is thought that this is due to smaller busts.

Ecstasy seizures rose 22% since 2005 and those of heroin fell 1%. Herbal cannabis seizures were up 44% and resin hauls were down by 21%.

A tonne of heroin and 6.6 million ecstasy tablets also made up the haul.

Drug users

Meanwhile, separate figures from the British Crime Survey suggest as many as 810,000 people in Britain have taken cocaine in the last year.

It showed 3% of people questioned admitted using class A drugs in the previous year, down on a year ago but up 0.3% from 1996.

Shadow home secretary Dominic Grieve, said: "No amount of Home Office spin on this year's figures can hide the fact that Class A drug use and drug crime have risen under this government, leaving Britain with the worst drug abuse problem in Europe.

"The reason is simple - mixed messages on drugs and a failure to take real action."

Home Office Minister Alan Campbell said the statistics showed overall drug use was falling and was at its lowest level for 10 years.

"Our efforts in tackling drugs and getting them off our streets are clearly delivering results. This is reflected in the record number of drug seizures, up 15 per cent on the last annual figures," he said.

"We continue to focus our efforts on reducing the harm caused by illegal drugs through enforcement, education and treatment."

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