Cocaine offences rise 16 per cent

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The Independent Online

Record arrests for the use of cocaine and crack were made last year, provoking accusations that the Government's anti-drugs strategy is failing.

The growing prevalence of cocaine was confirmed by police, who recorded 8,070 cocaine offences in England and Wales, a rise of 16 per cent on the previous 12 months. Publication of the figures follows the recent disclosure that use of the class-A drug in Britain is higher than in any other European Union country.

In 1994, 1,570 people were punished for cocaine offences, a figure that rose to 2,880 in 1997, when Labour came to power.

The number of crack cocaine offences rose last year by 8 per cent to 2,440. But the Home Office figures showed a decline in the number of people found guilty or cautioned for other drugs offences. Overall drug offences fell by 21 per cent to 105,570, mainly because of the reclassification of cannabis from class B to class C in January 2004.

Heroin offences fell from 10,520 in 2003 to 10,040 last year, and the number of ecstasy drug offences dropped by 300 to 5,230. Methadone, LSD, amphetamines and anabolic steroid offences also dipped slightly.