Drug crime worries MP

Friday, 16 February, 2007

AN MP has claimed that drug offences are "spiralling" in Suffolk compared to neighbouring counties of Cambridgeshire and Norfolk.

Latest figures from the Home Office show there were 2,015 drug offences in Suffolk in 2005/6 compared to 1,442 in Cambridgeshire and 1,821 in Norfolk.

David Ruffley, MP for Bury St Edmunds, was given the figures after asking a House of Commons question of Vernon Coaker MP, parliamentary under-secretary at the Home Office.

Mr Ruffley has asked Alastair McWhirter, Suffolk's Chief Constable, for an explanation.

Mr Ruffley said: "Since 2002, recorded drug offences in Suffolk have gone up by a fifth. To make matters worse, we in Suffolk have 40 per cent more drug crime than in neighbouring Cambridgeshire and 10 per cent more than Norfolk.

"These are some deeply troubling figures and local people in Suffolk deserve to know why we suffer from more drug crime than elsewhere in East Anglia.

"It is clear from the answer the minister gave me that drug crime is on the rise across the eastern region and that this Government is losing the war against drugs."

But Suffolk police, who cover towns such as Haverhill, Newmarket and Mildenhall, have argued the figures show they are taking more action against drug dealers, because drug crime is usually only recorded when an arrest is made.

A spokesman for the county's police said: "We take a proactive stance - and the figures should not be taken as a sign that there are more drugs in circulation, but as an indication of our focus and effort over the past year to clamp down on drugs and drug-dealing.

"For example, during June last year, more than 150 arrests were made across the county and quantities of cocaine and cannabis seized.

"In fact, latest information from the British Crime Survey shows that Suffolk has the lowest percentage of people in the country (13.9) who have concerns about drug use or dealing in their community.