Illegal drug use in Britain has continued to soar despite worldwide decline, according to a new United Nations report.
According to the report Britain has 400,000 ‘problem drug users’ who are permanently intoxicated or regularly bingeing on illegal substances.
It shows that Britain has the highest number of amphetamine, cocaine and heroin users in Europe.
Britain has twice as many heroin users as France, and three times as many as Germany.
In light of the figures UN drugs experts urged governments not to give in to calls for softer laws on drugs.
Antonio Maria Costa, director of the UN drugs agency, said: “Drugs are not harmful because they are controlled. They are controlled because they are harmful.”
The UN was critical of the UK Government’s decision five years ago to downgrade cannabis to class C. The law was tightened up again earlier this year amid concerns from police and mental health experts.
Shadow Home Secretary Chris Grayling said the UN report “underlines just how ineffective the Government’s strategy on dealing with the drug problem has been”.
Earlier this month it was reported that a record number of young people were treated for drug or alcohol problems in 2007/08.
A total of 52,294 young poeple aged 13-24 went to counsellors during that period – a rise of twelve per cent in two years.
Recently Kathy Gyngell, the author of a report on the ‘war on drugs’ for the Centre for Policy Studies, said the Government should do more to stop drug use, rather than simply addressing the harm it causes.
She said: “Despite the £10 billion spent on the War on Drugs, the numbers emerging from government treatment programmes are at the same level as if there had been no treatment programme at all”.