United Nations says Scotland is global hotspot for cocaine use

Scotland has been identified by the United Nations as the country with the biggest cocaine habit in the world.

A study by the UN reveals that more people per head of the population use cocaine in Scotland than anywhere else.

With England suffering the second highest level of usage, equal with Spain, the United Kingdom was identified as Europe's biggest market for the drug in terms of overall consumption. More than one in four of Europe's cocaine users are in the UK, researchers found.

The UN World Drug Report found that 3.7 per cent of the adult population in Scotland used cocaine in 2009, the same level as in 2005 but almost three times as high as in 200.

In England and Spain the level was three people in every hundred but whereas usage in Spain remained similar to 2005, in England there was a sharp increase from 2.4 per cent four years ago.

By contrast, in the United States, which is perceived to have a huge cocaine problem, the level of usage was 2.6 per cent of the adult population aged 16 to 59.

Researchers for the UN said of cocaine use: "The only major European market showing an increase is the United Kingdom. The highest prevalence of cocaine use in Europe is found in Scotland. The United Kingdom is thus overall Europe's largest cocaine market in absolute numbers with some 1.2 million users in 2009." The global cocaine market is estimated to be worth £60bn and in Europe the number of users doubled to 4.1 million in the last 10 years.

Part of the reason for the UK's high consumption is that Colombian producers have been forced to look for new markets after authorities cracked down on supply chains to the US.

Scotland was also found to have, with Estonia, some of the highest levels of heroin use in the world, though cannabis use is falling. Western Europe is the world's biggest heroin market, taking 26 per cent of it, followed by Russia, with 21 per cent, and China, with 13 per cent.

A separate report revealed that 105kg of class A drugs worth £21m were seized by the Scottish Crime and Drug Enforcement Agency (SCDEA). George Meldrum, its director general, said arrests are increasingly being made that reflect the organisation's determination to arrest senior gang members rather than just the "foot soldiers".

Kenny MacAskill, Scotland's Cabinet Secretary for Justice, said the SCDEA report provided evidence of "significant progress" being made in tackling serious crime in Scotland.

Suggested Topics
Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
election 2015The 10 best quotes of the campaign
A caravan being used as a polling station in Ford near Salisbury, during the 2010 election
election 2015The Independent's guide to get you through polling day
David Blunkett joins the Labour candidate for Redcar Anna Turley on a campaigning visit last month
voicesWhat I learnt from my years in government, by the former Home Secretary David Blunkett
ebooksA celebration of British elections
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Day In a Page

General Election 2015: ‘We will not sit down with Nicola Sturgeon’, says Ed Balls

'We will not sit down with Nicola Sturgeon'

In an exclusive interview, Ed Balls says he won't negotiate his first Budget with SNP MPs - even if Labour need their votes to secure its passage
VE Day 70th anniversary: How ordinary Britons celebrated the end of war in Europe

How ordinary Britons celebrated VE Day

Our perception of VE Day usually involves crowds of giddy Britons casting off the shackles of war with gay abandon. The truth was more nuanced
They came in with William Caxton's printing press, but typefaces still matter in the digital age

Typefaces still matter in the digital age

A new typeface once took years to create, now thousands are available at the click of a drop-down menu. So why do most of us still rely on the old classics, asks Meg Carter?
Discovery of 'missing link' between the two main life-forms on Earth could explain evolution of animals, say scientists

'Missing link' between Earth's two life-forms found

New microbial species tells us something about our dark past, say scientists
The Pan Am Experience is a 'flight' back to the 1970s that never takes off - at least, not literally

Pan Am Experience: A 'flight' back to the 70s

Tim Walker checks in and checks out a four-hour journey with a difference
Humans aren't alone in indulging in politics - it's everywhere in the animal world

Humans aren't alone in indulging in politics

Voting, mutual back-scratching, coups and charismatic leaders - it's everywhere in the animal world
Crisp sales are in decline - but this tasty trivia might tempt back the turncoats

Crisp sales are in decline

As a nation we're filling up on popcorn and pitta chips and forsaking their potato-based predecessors
Ronald McDonald the muse? Why Banksy, Ron English and Keith Coventry are lovin' Maccy D's

Ronald McDonald the muse

A new wave of artists is taking inspiration from the fast food chain
13 best picnic blankets

13 best picnic blankets

Dine al fresco without the grass stains and damp bottoms with something from our pick of picnic rugs
Barcelona 3 Bayern Munich 0 player ratings: Lionel Messi scores twice - but does he score highest in our ratings?

Barcelona vs Bayern Munich player ratings

Lionel Messi scores twice - but does he score highest in our ratings?
Martin Guptill: Explosive New Zealand batsman who sets the range for Kiwis' big guns

Explosive batsman who sets the range for Kiwis' big guns

Martin Guptill has smashed early runs for Derbyshire and tells Richard Edwards to expect more from the 'freakish' Brendon McCullum and his buoyant team during their tour of England
General Election 2015: Ed Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

He was meant to be Labour's biggest handicap - but has become almost an asset
General Election 2015: A guide to the smaller parties, from the the National Health Action Party to the Church of the Militant Elvis Party

On the margins

From Militant Elvis to Women's Equality: a guide to the underdogs standing in the election
Amr Darrag: Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister in exile still believes Egypt's military regime can be replaced with 'moderate' Islamic rule

'This is the battle of young Egypt for the future of our country'

Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister Amr Darrag still believes the opposition can rid Egypt of its military regime and replace it with 'moderate' Islamic rule, he tells Robert Fisk
Why patients must rely less on doctors: Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'

Why patients must rely less on doctors

Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'