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Drugs: Crime

Volume 506: debated on Wednesday 24 February 2010

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what recent steps his Department has taken to reduce the volume of illegal drugs trafficked through the UK. (317216)

The trafficking of drugs to the UK is the subject of constant attention by the law enforcement agencies working collaboratively, in the United Kingdom and overseas, against the drugs and individuals involved. In 2008-09 the Serious Organised Crime Agency was involved, with partner agencies, in seizures of 88 tonnes of cocaine and heroin. SOCA works closely with international partners to help them destroy production capability in source countries and deny traffickers the ability to operate their routes to the UK. This enforcement activity appears to have contributed to increases in the wholesale price of cocaine and a reduction in its purity at street level, changes which are suggestive of a shortage of supply of the drug in the UK.

We are currently implementing the recommendations of ‘Extending Our Reach: a comprehensive approach to tackling serious organised crime’ which was published in July 2009 which, through a wide range of measures, will improve the UK's effectiveness against organised crime, including drugs trafficking.

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what recent discussions he has had with his counterparts in (a) Europe, (b) the US and (c) Afghanistan on measures to tackle the trafficking of illegal drugs. (317217)

I had discussions with US counterparts (John Brennan, the President's Assistant on Counter-Terrorism, Janet Napolitano, the Homeland Security Secretary, and Eric Holder, the Attorney General) in Washington in September. We discussed measures to tackle the trafficking of illegal drugs, looking at source countries and supply routes. Our discussions immediately followed my visit to the Joint Inter-Agency Task Force in Key West, Florida, where joint work is producing strong results in interdicting the traffic in cocaine from Latin America and the Caribbean. I secured agreement for the creation of a senior level US/UK group on organised crime, to include counter narcotics activity.

In my absence on other business earlier this month, Lord West met Gil Kerlikowske, the US Director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy, in London and a number of common issues were discussed, including operational cooperation in tackling drug trafficking.

I continue to take a close interest in EU proposals and actions to tackle drug trafficking, where UK officials are fully engaged with our EU colleagues, focusing on work in Latin America and the Caribbean, West Africa, Afghanistan and Pakistan.