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Cocaine use doubles in Britain in five years and purity levels at record high

Analysis suggests more than one in every 50 Londoners take drug every day

Abby Young-Powell
Sunday 19 May 2019 20:00 BST
Cocaine powder in lines on a black background
Cocaine powder in lines on a black background (Getty Images/iStockphoto)

Cocaine use in Britain has more than doubled in five years and purity of the drug has reached a record high, an analysis of waste water has shown.

The analysis, carried out by forensic scientists at King’s College, London, shows London and Bristol are in the top five cities with the highest use of the Class A drug in Europe, alongside Barcelona, Antwerp, Zurich and Amsterdam.

London is one of the few cities in Europe where consumption of the drug is almost as high during the week as at weekends. The analysis also suggests more than one in every 50 people in London take the drug every day.

Dr Leon Barron, a forensic scientist at King’s College, London who led the research, told The Telegraph that the analysis gives a comprehensive understanding of how much cocaine is being consumed by the population. “It’s been steadily rising,” he told the newspaper.

“I understand that purity has also risen mainly through increased supply and production in Latin America. There are cartels operating in the UK to offload that excess supply,” he said.

Concentrations in waste water are 900 milligrams per 1,000 of the population per day, which rose from 392 milligrams per 1,000 in 2011, according to the analysis and reported by the Telegraph.

Earlier this month, researchers at King's College London, in collaboration with the University of Suffolk, found cocaine present in 100 per cent of the freshwater shrimp samples tested in British waterways, and ketamine, pesticides and other chemicals were also widespread.

A global drug survey that examined the drinking habits of 36 countries by surveying more than 120,000 people globally suggested Britons get drunk more often than everyone else in the world.

Britons reported getting drunk an average of 51.1 times in a 12-month period, which accounts for almost once a week, according to the research, which was based on World Health Organisation (WHO) data and a Global Burden of Disease study.

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