Drugs and International Organised Crime are a growing threat to international peace and security. Drug addiction damages public health and ruins the lives of those who become dependent on them. Drugs money and the proceeds from international crime destabilise economies and distort financial systems. Drugs and organised crime breed violence and corruption, which undermine good governance and the whole fabric of society.
It is essential to tackle all aspects of the drug problem (supply, trafficking and demand) and international crime in a comprehensive co-ordinated and balanced strategy. Drugs and crime problems vary from country to country, but no society is immune. Drug traffickers do not respect borders and are flexible enough to respond quickly to law enforcement efforts directed against them by diversifying their routes and marketing new types of drug.
The annual world-wide proceeds from the drug trade may be as high as US $500 billion according to the UN. But this is a business that also sustains disorder and conflict in Afghanistan and Colombia from where most drugs trafficked to the UK originate. And it is also a business that results in misery and human suffering for addicts, not just from the West but in countries like India, Pakistan and Iran. International co-operation is therefore essential to tackle this global menace effectively.
Drugs in the UK
Drug misuse costs the UK over £4 billion a year in crime, sickness and absenteeism. We also estimate that there are 270,000 regular users of heroin, 180,000 regular users of cocaine and 120,000 regular users of crack cocaine in the UK. Over 3,200 deaths were attributed to drug abuse in 1998. The estimated average monthly spend of regular Class A drug users in the UK is around £1,500.