Use of crack cocaine rises by a third in three years

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The number of people using crack cocaine has risen by 30 per cent in the past three years. More people used crack than heroin last year, according to a report by the charity Turning Point.

While the numbers using heroin have remained steady, at about 64,000, those on crack have risen by 20,000 in the past three years to 79,000 in 2004.

Specialists are warning that the Government is not responding quickly enough to the growing problems caused by crack addiction and related crime.

The number of known offenders who use crack has risen by 326 per cent since 1997, the report found.

Seizures of heroin in the UK fell by 16 per cent in 2002, while crack seizures rose by 15 per cent, according to the most recent figures from the Home Office.

Deaths in which crack was named as a contributory factor have increased ninefold in the past 10 years, to 113 in 2003. According to the report, many heroin users are now also using crack as well, leading to particularly chaotic lives and fuelling an increase in crime.

Almost nine out of 10 (89 per cent) of convicted criminals who use both heroin and crack said that there was a connection between their offence and their drug problems, compared with only 60 per cent of those on heroin alone.