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Government launches cocaine crackdown

Government launches cocaine crackdown

HOME OFFICE News Release (104/2008) issued by The Government News Network on 20 May 2008

The Government is launching a new crackdown on cocaine, Drugs Minister Vernon Coaker announced today.

A £1 million pound FRANK campaign targeted at 15-18 year olds, a commitment to the Colombian Government's Shared Responsibility campaign and a new leaflet illustrating the dangers of the drug are being announced to enhance the drive to tackle cocaine use.

The FRANK campaign will make young people aware of the health and social harms of using cocaine and aims to deglamourise the drug's celebrity image by revealing its ugly consequences. The campaign will use a range of media including online advertising to reach young people with the real facts about the drug.

On Tuesday Mr Coaker will lead a summit with the representatives of Colombian Government, the Association of Chief Police Officers, the National Treatment Agency and the London Drug Policy Forum to explore how the efforts to cut cocaine use can be enhanced.

Mr Coaker and the Colombian Vice President will, with former Blur bassist Alex James, attend a Trafalgar Square exhibition that will this Wednesday vividly demonstrate the environmental and social destruction caused by cocaine use.

While overall drug use is at an11 year low cocaine is the only drug which has risen in use since 1998. Although cocaine use has in fact been stable since 2000 and fewer than five per cent of adults have used the Class A drug in the last year, the Government is fully determined to strengthen efforts against it.

It will do this by:

* launching a new million pound multi-media FRANK campaign later this year with a focus on cocaine;
* issuing cocaine leaflets for young people and drug workers to illustrate the dangers and consequences of cocaine use;
* signing up to the Colombian Government's Shared Responsibility campaign that highlights the global consequences of cocaine use; and
* hosting a summit to explore how cocaine use can be driven down.

Drugs Minister Vernon Coaker said:

"We have taken tough action against cocaine use in recent years. More than 1,100 crack houses have been closed thanks to powers we introduced four years ago.

"Cocaine use has been stable in recent years but it is a very dangerous drug for users and has a devastating impact on the people that live in producing countries. Cocaine users need to realise that their drug use destroys more than their health; it destroys the lives of innocent people caught up in kidnapping, exploitation and armed violence."

"We will continue to tackle cocaine and other illegal drugs through tough enforcement, innovate prevention campaigns, effective education and, where necessary, tailored treatment."

Commander Simon Bray, representing ACPO drugs portfolio, said:

"Cocaine, and in particular crack cocaine, causes untold harm, not only to individuals but to communities and society at large. This is an issue at all levels of policing, from cocaine's links into acquisitive crime, through the violence associated with crack to the damage caused to neighbourhoods by crack houses and open dealing. The police service continues to work against the effects of this drug through its neighbourhood policing teams, specialist units and full use of the criminal justice system, including the drug intervention programme."

The Government continue to bear down hard on drug dealers. Last week the Serious Organised Crime Agency announced it had seized 85 tonnes of cocaine. Police, working in tandem with communities and local authorities, have closed over 1,100 crack houses since crack house closure orders were introduced in January 2004.

In addition, the cocaine summit takes place during the first ever National Tackling Drugs Week, which began on Monday, and highlights and promotes enforcement activity to tackle drug use. This involves hundreds of drug agencies and police officers taking to the streets and promoting the work being done in communities to tackle drug use.

The FRANK drug awareness campaign, which plays a crucial role in empowering young people with knowledge of the effects of drug use, will this Friday celebrate its fifth anniversary.

NOTES TO EDITORS

1. To request the cocaine leaflet please call 020 7035 3835 or 020 7035 3535.

2. For more on the Colombian Government's Shared Responsibility campaign go to http://www.sharedresponsibility.gov.co/.

3. National Tackling Drugs Week involves high profile enforcement activity through to working closely with Drug Action Teams to provide advice to the public on the dangers of drug use. It features drug awareness sessions in Rotherham; a mobile police van visiting Oldham communities and offering advice and support for residents; a "rat on a rat" campaign in Wigan. For more on the week see http://drugs.homeoffice.gov.uk/communications-and-campaigns/tackling-drugs/NationalTacklingDrugsWeek/.

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