UK declared the cocaine capital of Europe

THE United Kingdom is the cocaine capital of Europe, with more than a million regular users taking the drug, according to a new report.
And one of Scotland’s top drug experts said yesterday that given the biggest per capita consumption was north of the Border, the country was probably Europe’s capital of the class A substance.The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime said the UK was Europe’s largest cocaine market. But its report said the quality of the drug had declined dramatically in recent years. The report said a crackdown on traffickers had pushed cocaine prices up and led to dealers diluting the drug even more.

Some seizures by police revealed that substances being passed off as cocaine that were only 5 per cent pure. The UN found dealers mixing their product with cutting agents such as dental and veterinary anaesthetics, which mimic the effects of cocaine but are much cheaper.

There are estimated to be 860,000 cocaine users in England and Wales and about 140,000 in Northern Ireland and Scotland combined. The World Drug Report 2009 revealed that cocaine use had increased dramatically in the UK from the mid-1990s, but remained stable over the past two years.

Data given to the UN by the UK’s Serious Organised Crime Agency shows that wholesale prices have risen to record levels. The cost of a kilogram of cocaine has increased by 50 per cent – from £30,000 to £45,000 – since 2007. The report says: “The UK thus continues to be – in absolute numbers – Europe’s largest cocaine market, with its second highest cocaine use prevalence rate.”

Professor Neil McKeganey, director of the Centre for Drug Misuse Research at Glasgow University, said he was not surprised at the UN’s conclusions. “A few years ago I said that in due course cocaine would overtake heroin, and I think that’s what we’re going to see. Heroin use may have plateaued at quite a high level, but cocaine use has been rising quite dramatically.” He added: “Scotland typically is the highest centre of drug consumption in the UK anyway, so it could well be that it is the cocaine capital of Europe.”

Source: The Scotsman 25th June 2009

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