The Government has been accused of losing its ‘war on drugs’ as new figures show cocaine use rose by a quarter in the last year.
Almost one million adults admit to using the class A drug, a 400 per cent increase since 1996, according to new Home Office figures from the British Crime Survey.
Almost half of the users are aged between 16 and 24.
Shadow Home Secretary Chris Grayling said: “Hardly a day goes by without yet another depressing set of statistics about the scale of Britain’s social problems under this Government.”
Mr Grayling added: “Drug addiction causes family breakdown, is linked to a substantial proportion of crime and causes long-term damage to people’s health. We have to turn this round.”
Martin Barnes, Chief Executive of charity DrugScope, said: “These figures show a marked and worrying increase in the use of cocaine powder, in the adult population as a whole and among 16 to 24-year-olds.”
Mr Barnes added “People do underestimate the harm that cocaine can do and young people experimenting with that drug in particular are taking very significant risks.”
The Home Office figures found a slight dip in overall illegal drug use, which had dropped by one per cent compared to 1996.
Home Office minister Alan Campbell said: “We are taking comprehensive action to tackle cocaine use, from increased enforcement to reduce the supply, along with effective treatment, education and early intervention for those most at risk.”
In June, the UN Office on Drugs and Crime named Britain as the cocaine capital of Europe.