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Cocaine found in more than 10 per cent of British banknotes

More than one in 10 banknotes in circulation in Britain have tested positive for traces of cocaine, according to a new report.

The finding, from an official inquiry by the Home Office's advisory council for the misuse of drugs, shows a significant rise since 2005, when only 4 per cent of banknotes were contaminated with cocaine. The testing was carried out by 15 police forces across Britain.

In the first evidence session of the inquiry yesterday, police also said cocaine was increasingly being cut with MDMA (methylenedioxymethamphetamine). Britain has been dubbed the cocaine capital of Europe after a report found use of the Class A drug was higher in England and Wales than anywhere on the continent over the last two years.

At least 4.8 per cent of people in England and Wales have taken the drug at some point in their life, the annual report of the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction (EMCDDA) found. Ecstasy and amphetamine use is stable or declining across Europe but new synthetic substances are "continually being developed", the report, released in November, said.