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."

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Day In a Page

Greece says 'No': A night of huge celebrations in Athens as voters decisively back Tsipras and his anti-austerity stance in historic referendum

Greece referendum

Greeks say 'No' to austerity and plunge Europe into crisis
Ten years after the 7/7 terror attacks, is Britain an altered state?

7/7 bombings anniversary

Ten years after the terror attacks, is Britain an altered state?
Beautiful evening dresses are some of the loveliest Donatella has created

Versace haute couture review

Beautiful evening dresses are some of the loveliest Donatella has ever created
No hope and no jobs, so Gaza's young risk their lives, climb the fence and run for it

No hope and no jobs in Gaza

So the young risk their lives and run for it
Fashion apps: Retailers roll together shopping and social networking for mobile customers

Fashion apps

Retailers roll together shopping and social networking for mobile customers
The Greek referendum exposes a gaping hole at the heart of the European Union – its distinct lack of any genuine popular legitimacy

Gaping hole at the heart of the European Union

Treatment of Greece has shown up a lack of genuine legitimacy
Number of young homeless in Britain 'more than three times the official figures'

'Everything changed when I went to the hostel'

Number of young homeless people in Britain is 'more than three times the official figures'
Compton Cricket Club

Compton Cricket Club

Portraits of LA cricketers from notorious suburb to be displayed in London
London now the global money-laundering centre for the drug trade, says crime expert

Wlecome to London, drug money-laundering centre for the world

'Mexico is its heart and London is its head'
The Buddhist temple minutes from Centre Court that helps a winner keep on winning

The Buddhist temple minutes from Centre Court

It helps a winner keep on winning
Is this the future of flying: battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks?

Is this the future of flying?

Battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks
Isis are barbarians – but the Caliphate is a dream at the heart of all Muslim traditions

Isis are barbarians

but the Caliphate is an ancient Muslim ideal
The Brink's-Mat curse strikes again: three tons of stolen gold that brought only grief

Curse of Brink's Mat strikes again

Death of John 'Goldfinger' Palmer the latest killing related to 1983 heist
Greece debt crisis: 'The ministers talk to us about miracles' – why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum

'The ministers talk to us about miracles'

Why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum
Call of the wild: How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate

Call of the wild

How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate