Concern as drug seizures soar
SEIZURES of illegal drugs in Suffolk have soared by 60% in five years, new research has revealed.Drug charities claim the sharp rise is proof that the county's drug problems have worsened and admit they are finding it increasingly difficult to cope with demand for their support services.
By Danielle Nuttall
SEIZURES of illegal drugs in Suffolk have soared by 60% in five years, new research has revealed.
Drug charities claim the sharp rise is proof that the county's drug problems have worsened and admit they are finding it increasingly difficult to cope with demand for their support services.
Figures, collated by the Home Office, show the number of drug seizures in Suffolk rose from 850 in 1999 to 1,360 in 2004 (60%). The Government has not yet published figures for 2005.
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Suffolk Constabulary put the increase down to greater police detection work but anti-drug campaigners say the county has undoubtedly seen an escalation of problems.
Chip Somers, project manager of Bury-based drug and alcohol counselling charity Focus12, said: “We are certainly aware that there are far more drugs and people with drug problems in East Anglia than there were 10 years ago.
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“Without a doubt, there is greater availability of drugs and that's born out of the fact the cost of drugs has gone down rather than up which is indicative of there being a lot of drugs around.
“We are always under pressure to provide enough care for people who are referred to us and we see no indication that the drug problem is diminishing. We are seeing completely the opposite.
“An increase in the number of seizures is usually evidence of an increase in the amount of drugs around.
“We are always very busy. Most agencies are hard pressed because it's an area that doesn't receive an awful lot of funding.”
Suffolk Constabulary revealed that 348 drug trafficking offences were recorded in Suffolk during 2005 and 1,246 offences of possession of a controlled drug, including cannabis.
Detective Chief Superintendent Stewart Gull said: “A greater increase in the number of drugs seized and detected incidents show Suffolk Constabulary's commitment to tackling illegal drugs and targeting those who deal them in our communities.
“The Suffolk Constabulary dedicated Crackdown hotline - 0800 253 253 - which celebrated its 10-year anniversary this year, provides people with the perfect opportunity to take a proactive stance against drug dealing and crime by simply picking up the phone to pass on information to the police.
“Illegal drugs cause a great deal of misery. We will continue working with our partners, and the public, to crack down on drugs to help make our county even safer.”
Penny McVeigh, chief executive of drug and alcohol charity Norcas, based in East Anglia, said the service had witnessed an unprecedented level of demand.
“Our service in Lowestoft which offers clinical drugs work is extremely busy and unfortunately has waiting lists because we cannot cope with the demand,” she said.
“There is unfortunately a big pressure on drug and alcohol services. Although the Government has a strategy, it does not give any additional money.
“At the moment PCTs are in debt and services to drug and alcohol units are under threat.”