Seizures of crack cocaine have doubled in a year

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The Independent Online

Seizures of hard drugs have leapt to an all-time high, with interceptions of crack doubling in a year - but the amount of cocaine recovered fell sharply.

The Home Office said the figures were a tribute to the success of police and customs operations. But drug charities raised doubts over whether the increased haul had made any difference to the quantity of hard drugs in circulation.

More than 3,900kg of heroin was recovered in 2001, up 16 per cent on the previous year and nearly eight times the amount seized a decade earlier. Nearly 56kg of crack was recovered, more than double the amount the year before. Seizures of Ecstasy-type drugs rose by 17 per cent in the past decade.

But, in a figure possibly reflecting a change in drug-taking habits, the amount of cocaine fell by 28 per cent to 2,842kg, the lowest since 1997.

LSD appears to have almost vanished from circulation, with just 9kg seized compared with 158kg four years earlier.

Despite efforts of police and customs operations to target Class A drugs, cannabis still accounted for nearly three-quarters of all seizures. Nearly 27 tons of herbal cannabis and 59 tons of cannabis resin were intercepted and more than 71,000 cannabis plants recovered.

David Blunkett, the Home Secretary, has announced plans to downgrade cannabis from a class B to class C drug.