Class A drug prosecutions double

PROSECUTIONS against class A drug users in Suffolk have nearly doubled, new figures revealed today.The number of people caught in possession of the banned substances, including cocaine, heroin and ecstasy, shot up by 78 per cent between 1997 and 2003, from 59 to 105.

PROSECUTIONS against class A drug users in Suffolk have nearly doubled, new figures revealed today.

The number of people caught in possession of the banned substances, including cocaine, heroin and ecstasy, shot up by 78 per cent between 1997 and 2003, from 59 to 105.

And convictions against class A drug dealers also increased by 28pc during the same period, from 39 to 50.

The data, the most recent available, was published by the government in response to a parliamentary question posed by Suffolk Conservative MP David Ruffley.

Mr Ruffley has described the increase as “worrying”, although Suffolk police argue it is evidence of the success of their ongoing crackdown against drugs.

Simon Stevens, of the force, said: “The increase in people being dealt with by the courts for serious drug offences reflects Suffolk Constabulary's commitment, in partnership with other agencies, to bringing those involved in illegal drugs to justice.

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“Suffolk Constabulary has had considerable success in targeting those who deal in class A drugs in our community. People can help us with this work by giving us information about drug dealers.”

Mr Ruffley has criticised government proposals to change the way people caught in possession of drugs are dealt with.

The government is currently considering new guidelines that would allow people to carry a certain amount of drugs and argue it was for their personal use.

However, Mr Ruffley claims such moves would create a legal loophole that could be exploited by dealers.

He said: “For the first time people will be able to carry up to £700 of heroin or £840 of crack cocaine and be allowed to claim it was only for personal use. This means dealers can claim that they are not dealers and so avoid a tougher penalty and sentence.”

A Home Office spokesman said a decision on the amount of drugs that could be classified as personal use will not be reached before March.

He said: “Possession of drugs is still an offence for which there are very stiff penalties. The measures we're consulting on are about stiffening the law, not softening it.

“The new act seeks to remove the excuse often put forward by dealers that the drugs in their possession is for personal use.

”The level set in the consultation is derived from current police practise.”

WEBLINK

www.drugs.gov.uk

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