Huge rise in cannabis seizures

NUMBERS of cannabis seizures have nearly trebled in Suffolk in only five years, it emerged today.

Josh Warwick

NUMBERS of cannabis seizures have nearly trebled in Suffolk in only five years, it emerged today.

In 2001, police recorded 420 incidents but by 2005, the latest year for which statistics are available, that figure had leapt to 1,181.

A leading Ipswich drugs charity today claimed the reclassification of cannabis in 2004 had prompted a major upturn in its use.

The Iceni Project said consumption had rocketed in the last 18 months to such an extent that the charity could no longer afford to treat people with cannabis-related problems.

However, detective chief inspector David Skevington welcomed the rise, claiming it reflected Suffolk police's front-foot approach to tackling drugs.

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He said: “Suffolk Constabulary is dedicated to targeting drug dealing, drug misuse and the associated crime.

“While overall crime is down, latest figures for 2007/8 show an increase of 5.8 per cent rise in the overall number of drug offences being recorded.

“This increase reflects the hard work, pro-active and robust approach to drug enforcement by the constabulary.

“To complement this enforcement we are also working closely with other agencies to ensure the provision of effective education, prevention and early intervention.”

Vernon Coaker, a Home Office under secretary, said increases in seizures in 2004 and 2005 could be connected to the introduction of cannabis warnings, where those caught with the drug are warned but not arrested and charged.

In the last few weeks, drugs cops have busted two cannabis factories in south east Ipswich.

The illegal operations, in Beatty Road and Hilton Road, could have netted criminals hundreds of thousands of pounds.

The government is currently planning to defy medical opinion and upgrade cannabis from class C to class B.

- If you have information about drug activity in your area, contact Crimestoppers on 0800 555111.

- If you are worried about your drug or alcohol use, or that of a friend or relative, then call the DAAT helpline on 01473 299640 between 9am and 6pm, Monday to Friday to get advice and information.

- Should cannabis be reclassified? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN or e-mail eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk

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