Young cosmopolitans driving rise in class A drug use, finds survey

One in 40 people surveyed said they had used powder cocaine in the last 12 months Picture: GETTY IM

One in 40 people surveyed said they had used powder cocaine in the last 12 months Picture: GETTY IMAGES/ISTOCKPHOTO - Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto

Cocaine use has risen to its highest level in the East of England for 15 years, according to results of an annual crime survey.

About one in every 30 people surveyed in this region admitted using a class A drug in the last year.

One in 40 said they had used cocaine in the last 12 months - the highest proportion since 2003/04, according to the annual Crime Survey for England and Wales.

Almost one in every 11 people aged 16-59 admitted having taken a drug of any class in the last year.

The upward trend in Class A drug use has been primarily driven by 16 to 24-year-olds, the survey found.

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Cannabis use was also at its highest in the region since 2008/09 - 8.1% compared to the national average of 7.6%.

Overall, the biggest users of cocaine, cannabis or any drug in the last year were childless adults of rising prosperity, living in cosmopolitan areas.

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Suffolk saw an exceptionally high rate of drug trafficking from September 2017 to June 2018.

Police put the spike down to tactical operations and the Youth Gang Prevention Unit's focus on enforcement around gang and county lines drug supply activity.

As of July this year, drug trafficking rates were 11% lower than the three year average.

At a recent meeting of the police and crime commissioner's (PCC) accountability and performance panel, deputy chief constable Rachel Kearton said the new Operation Sentinel team had "hit the ground running" - making more than 100 arrests in three months for a variety of offences, including possession with intent to supply drugs, fraud, handling stolen goods, weapons possession and attempted robbery.

At the same meeting, temporary assistant chief constable David Cutler said: "I've been policing for 26 years. In that time, drug availability and harm have, in my view, increased.

"Some adult conversations are needed about the long term response to drug supply.

"There needs to be real investment in reducing the demand."

Suffolk PCC Tim Passmore has previously condemned affluent recreational drug users for causing deprived communities to suffer by fuelling demand in a lucrative criminal trade.

He said "well-to-do middle class professionals" were ignorant of the cascading effect of using drugs socially.

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