If police reports about total seizures of cocaine in 2015/16 can be taken as a reliable indicator of supply and demand, cocaine consumption in the United Kingdom is trending up.
According to official figures released by the Home Office, 4,228 kg of cocaine was confiscated in 2015/16 in England and Wales, as the drug seems to be making a comeback. The numbers are around 25% higher than for the previous year and easily represent a ten-year record. The amount of seized marijuana was doubled in the same period and was the highest in the last five years, while other drugs such as LSD, heroin or amphetamine were detected in smaller quantities than a year ago. Total number of drug seizures in 2015/16 was reported at 148,553, around 10% lower than in 2014/15, with a corresponding 13% drop in drug offences registered by the police.
Border Force Seizures Up 31%
Looking at the numbers more closely, it appears that increase in the quantity of confiscated cocaine is mostly the result of a bigger haul at the borders – Border Force picked up 31% more this year. A part of it may be due to more efficient police work, but chances are that the rise simply reflects higher quantities sent towards UK destinations. Despite the record seizures, availability of cocaine in English cities is more or less identical as a year ago, which would appear to confirm the theory that supply side is stepping up.
There could be a number of reasons why that happens, from the recent ban on synthetic stimulants (‘research chemicals’) to economic difficulties that UK is currently going through. The police seem to have more success with interception of herbal marijuana, which is reported down 28% in the streets.
Drug Related Arrests Down 39%
Overall, the report indicates lower amount of drug related arrests, with a 39% decrease compared to a peak measured in 2008/09. The government also claims that level of drug abuse among is considerably reduced from a decade ago as the result of its activity, and pledges to continue to its current approach towards eradicating illegal drugs in local communities. At the same time, a spokesperson refused to explain the reasons for increased quantities of cocaine found at England’s external borders, denying the link with strong domestic demand.
Of course, the real picture is far more complex and we can only guess how effective the police measures actually are, but the fact remains that the UK is still among the largest importers of cocaine in Europe.
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