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Monday, 14 August, 2000, 18:06 GMT 19:06 UK
Drug and crime link grows
Illegal drugs
Offenders: a hard core commit crime to fund drug habit
Almost seven out of every ten people arrested test positive for illegal drugs, a Home Office survey suggests.

The report shows that drug-related crime in the UK is rising, and in some parts of the country has doubled.

A hardcore of offenders - one in 10 - commit an average of 240 offences a year to fund their drug habits, according to the report.

The government has pledged 268m over three years to tackle the problem.

The survey focussed on four areas of the country - Liverpool, Nottingham, Sunderland and South Norwood, London - and the key findings were:

  • 69% of those arrested tested positive for illegal drugs

  • 76% of those arrested admitted to taking at least one illegal drug in the previous year

  • Average weekly expenditure on drugs by offenders is 129

  • Cocaine and heroin users spend on average 308 a week on their habit

  • Average illegal income of offenders is 5,535

    Five hundred people were questioned for the Home Office NEW-ADAM survey. In Nottingham, the number of positive drug tests in arrested offenders had doubled, compared with findings three years ago.

    Paul Wiles, director of research, development and statistics at the Home Office, said: "The NEW-ADAM research does show that between 1997 and 1999 the drugs problem was worsening, on the part of those arrested by the police.

    More than 250m is being spent by the government to tackle drug problem

    "There was some increase in the more serious and damaging types of drug misuse, coupled with greater availability of heroin and crack or cocaine."

    Mike Trace, deputy to the Drugs Tsar Keith Hellawell, said he hoped the trend would be reversed by 2003 after the introduction of initiatives such as offender referrals to drug clinics.

    A separate research paper, also published by the Home Office, shows that drug treatment clinics can significantly reduce the number of drug-related crimes.

    Those being treated in an East London clinic were responsible for 52% less thefts and 64% less drug dealing.

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    Organised crime 'growing'
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