Cocaine deaths have increased by 20 per cent in a year and the number of deaths resulting from all illegal drugs has hit its highest total in England and Wales since 2001, new figures reveal.
This is the fifth year in a row that the number of cocaine-related deaths has risen and experts blame increased availability and celebrities glamorising drug use.
A line of cocaine can now often cost less than a glass of wine, renewing concerns that the Government is failing to tackle the increasing drugs problem.
The latest figures from the Office for National Statistics show some 235 deaths related to cocaine last year, up from 196 in 2007.
Deaths from all illegal drugs jumped to 1,738 last year, an eight per cent rise since 2007, with many of those deaths among the middle-aged, and the biggest rise among people in their 40s.
Chris Grayling, the shadow home secretary, said: “These figures are alarming in their own right, but they are the worst symptom of a broader problem of addiction that is blighting many communities, and particularly our most deprived areas.”
Last month the Government was accused of losing its ‘war on drugs’ as figures showed cocaine use had risen by a quarter in the last year.
A million Britons admitted to using the drug, which represents a 400 per cent rise since 1996.
In June, the UN Office on Drugs and Crime named Britain as the cocaine capital of Europe.
A report released in May by the Centre for Policy Studies accused the Government of wasting £10 billion of taxpayers’ money on a fruitless ‘harm reduction’ approach to drugs, which the author argued was trapping people in “state-sponsored addiction”.
The report called for the Government to “abandon the harm reduction approach”, “develop treatment support aimed at abstinence and rehabilitation” and “include a far tougher, better-funded enforcement programme to reduce the supply of drugs”.