Britain labelled 'cocaine capital of Europe'

The UK is the cocaine, ecstasy and amphetamine capital of Europe, according to a report into the state of the drugs problem.

A report by the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction (EMCDDA) shows that, for the fifth year running, the UK has recorded the highest number of cocaine users in the EU.

The annual figures show that 7.7 per cent of Britons aged 15-64 have taken cocaine - rising to 11.2 per cent for the 15-24 age group and 12.7 per cent for the those aged between 15 and 34.

In each category Spain is second (7 per cent, 8.7 per cent and 9.6 per cent respectively) and Ireland fourth (5.3 per cent, 7 per cent and 8.2 per cent).

The UK is also top of the league table for ecstasy, with 7.3 per cent of 15 to 64-year-olds admitting taking the drug in their lifetime, while amphetamines have been tried by 11.9 per cent of Britons.

Shadow Home Secretary Dominic Grieve said: "This report confirms Britain's status as the cocaine capital of Europe, not to mention the fact we also have the highest prevalence of amphetamine and ecstasy use amongst adults.

"It is particularly disturbing that we have the highest proportion of fifteen and sixteen-year-olds using cocaine - the Government's failure is betraying a whole generation of young people.

"This is due to Labour's chaotic, confused and staggeringly complacent approach to drugs. Drugs wreck lives, destroy communities and fuel crime - the fact Labour do not recognise this make them part of the problem, not the solution."

The survey said that 12 million EU citizens aged 15-64 admitted to having taken cocaine at some time in their lives, while 11 million have used amphetamines and 9.5 million have used ecstasy.

Cannabis use is much higher: 71 million Europeans say they have tried it - about one in four citizens.

In the UK 30.1 per cent of the 15-64 age group say they have used cannabis, exceeded only by France (30.6 per cent) and Denmark (36.5 per cent).

Among 15-34 year-olds the rate is higher - 41.4 per cent in the UK compared with 43 per cent in France and 49.5 per cent in Denmark.

The report said: "Prevalence of (ecstasy) use has remained consistently higher in the United Kingdom compared to the other countries.

"Data from a few countries suggest that cocaine could be replacing amphetamines and ecstasy among some sectors of the drug-using population. This may be the case in the UK and Denmark, and to some extent in Spain. Both the UK and Denmark report relatively high lifetime prevalence estimates for the use of amphetamines at 11.9 per cent and 6.9 per cent respectively, but levels of reported use in the last year and last month are more in line with those found in other countries.

"Increases in cocaine consumption in these countries have been matched to some extent by a decrease in the use of amphetamines, raising the possibility that one stimulant drug is replacing another in these markets."

The study also found a growing trend of "online shops" selling drugs over the internet, with more than half (52 per cent) based in the UK.

More than 200 different psychoactive substances offering "legal highs" were available, researchers said.

The Home Office welcomed the report's conclusion that drug use in the UK is stabilising, with numbers using cannabis and heroin falling:

A Home Office spokesman said: "Home Office figures published last week show overall drug use in the UK is at an all time low and the number of seizures is up 15 per cent on the last annual statistics.

"Alongside this, new figures today show the number of problem drug users has remained stable.

"We continue to focus our efforts on reducing the harm caused by illegal drugs through tough enforcement, education and treatment.

"We are already taking action to combat cocaine use; the drug information campaign FRANK will soon launch a £1 million campaign to educate the public about the social and health costs associated with the drug."

Arts and Entertainment
Friends is celebrating its 20th anniversary this year
tvSeries celebrates 20th anniversary
Sport
Yaya Touré (left) and Bayern Munich’s Spanish defender Juan Bernat
footballToure's lack of defensive work is big problem for City
Voices
voicesApple continually kill off smaller app developers, and that's no good for anyone
Arts and Entertainment
Liam Neeson said he wouldn't
tv

Liam Neeson's Downton dreams

News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Sport
Wembley Stadium
footballNews follows deal with Germany
Arts and Entertainment
A spell in the sun: Emma Stone and Colin Firth star in ‘Magic in the Moonlight’
filmReview: Magic In The Moonlight
Sport
A 'Sir Alex Feguson' tattoo
football

Arts and Entertainment
Ben Whishaw is replacing Colin Firth as the voice of Paddington Bear
tv

Thriller is set in the secret world of British espionage

Life and Style
life

News
ScienceGallery: Otherwise known as 'the best damn photos of space you'll see till 2015'
Life and Style
fashion

Bomber jacket worn by Mary Berry sells out within an hour

Sport
Andros Townsend is challenged by Vladimir Volkov
football
Arts and Entertainment
Rapper Jay Z performs on the Pyramid Stage at Glastonbury in 2008
musicSinger sued over use of the single-syllable sample in 'Run This Town'
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Day In a Page

Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam
'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

Exclusive extract from Janis Winehouse's poignant new memoir
Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

The Imitation Game, film review
England and Roy Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption in Basel

England and Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption

Welbeck double puts England on the road to Euro 2016
Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Pictures removed from public view as courts decide ownership
‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

Donatella Versace at New York Fashion Week