Drug seizures 'fall to lowest level in almost a decade'


Annual drug seizures across England and Wales have fallen dramatically to the lowest number in almost a decade, official figures show.

There were 167,059 seizures by police and Border Force staff across the two countries in 2014/2015, down from 194,346 in 2013/14.

The 14% drop reflects the largest year-on-year fall since 2006/07, when comparable records began.

Drug offences also fell by 14% in 2014/15 against the previous year, the Home Office figures reveal.

Policing Minister Mike Penning said drugs seizures by Border Force officials had gone up by 71% since 2011/12, stopping dangerous drugs from entering the UK and harming communities.

He said: "Seizures are just one part of a complex picture in our fight against drugs. Our strategy is clear - we must prevent drug use in our communities, help those who are dependent to recover and ensure law enforcement agencies stop the supply of drugs and the organised crime associated with it.

"There are promising signs our approach is working - with a downward trend in drug use over the last decade and more people recovering from dependency now than in 2009/10."

Officials carried out 29,705 seizures of class A drugs in 2014/15, a 10% fall on last year. Cocaine was the most common type of class A drug found, with authorities confiscating 3,387kg in 15,815 seizure operations.

Class B drugs accounted for most of the seizures in 2014/15 - 132,253 in total, which was down 17% on the previous year.

Herbal cannabis accounted for 110,626 of these seizures - 15,106kg of the drug - while authorities confiscated 367,000 cannabis plants in 11,612 seizures.

But there was a rise in the number of class C drugs picked up, with the 6,244 seizures up 11% from 2013/14.

The 167,059 drug seizures in 2014/15 mark a significant drop from the peak of 241,473 in 2008/09, of 31%.

Seizures by police forces were down by 15% on last year, but those by the Border Force were up by 5%.

Police seizures accounted for 96% of the total number, but discoveries by the Border Force were for larger quantities of drugs - border authorities confiscated 91% of cannabis resin, 82% of ecstasy seized and 79% of the cocaine that was discovered.

Individual police forces also posted marked differences on seizure numbers against last year.

Thames Valley Police saw a 47% fall in drug seizures against 2013/14, while West Mercia Police recorded a 31% increase.

The City of London Police had the highest number of seizures per million people, with 51,536, while outside the capital the highest number was by Dyfed-Powys Police in Wales, with 5,321 seizures.

Lincolnshire Police recorded the lowest number of seizures, with 313 for every million residents.