Mid and West Wales: The drug capital of the UK

ACCORDING to new figures, Mid and West Wales is the UK’s drug capital, with the Dyfed-Powys police force having the highest rate of drug seizures in England and Wales, with 5,321 per million people in 2014-15.

Credit - Tomos Nolan

Tomos Nolan

These figures come in higher than the seizure rate by the Metropolitan Police of 4,823 per million, and almost double the rate in England and Wales of 2,765 per million people. However, the figures exclude the City of London, which has a very small resident population alongside a large daytime working population.

The South Wales police force area, including Cardiff, Swansea, and Bridgend, is a hotspot for heroin, with one of the highest rates of seizure, with 303 per million people being seized in 2014-15. This is more than double the England and Wales rate of 135 per million. South Wales also has one of the highest rates of amphetamines seized, at 317 per million people, up 17% from 2013/14, and the rate of anabolic steroids seized in Gwen has increased eight-fold in a year, from two per million to 14, and this is also up 40% in the Dyfed Powys’ area.

However, seizure rates have dropped since 2013/14; heroin seizure is down from 321 per million, and drug seizure in the Gwent police area have dropped by more than a third in a year – by 37.2%, from 2,046 to 1,284 in 2014-15. This is one of the biggest falls in England and Wales. North Wales has seen the rate of cocaine seizures drop by 54%, but methadone seizures have doubled.

In 2014-15, drug seizures were down 14% on the number of seizures in 2013-14, with 167,059 in England and Wales. There was also a 14% fall in the number of police-recorded drug offences, something that correlates highly with the number of drug seizures.

A spokesman for the Wales Office has said that:

“Drug seizures are just one part of a complex picture in this government’s fight against crime […] Our strategy is clear – we must prevent drug use in our communities, help those who are dependent to recover, and ensure law enforcement agencies to stop the supply of drugs and the organised crime associated with it.”

The detective superintendent for South Wales Police, Jason Redrup, has also commented that:

“Tackling serious and organised crime is an important strategic priority for South Wales Police and there have been a number of recent high-profile successes against crime gangs bringing drugs into our communities. A lot of hard work has gone into these particular operations and this underlines the commitment to protect our communities from the harm of the sale and supply of controlled drugs. Drugs are a UK-wide problem and actual reality is that South Wales is not a hotspot. It would be wrong to make that assumption because we have a successful structure in place for tackling this sort of criminality.”

So, while Mid and West Wales may statistically be ranked as the drug capital of England and Wales, a closer look at the figures shows a vast improvement in the fight against drug use.