Drugs: Balkans

Home Office written question – answered am ar 23 Mai 2024.

Danfonwch hysbysiad imi am ddadleuon fel hyn

Photo of The Marquess of Lothian The Marquess of Lothian Ceidwadwyr

To ask His Majesty's Government what estimate they have made of the amount of cocaine that arrived in the UK in (1) 2023, and (2) 2024 to date, as a result of Balkan drug gangs and their criminal networks; and what steps they are taking, together with European partners, to (a) end the illegal activities associated with Balkan drug dealers, and (b) disrupt the supply of cocaine across Europe.

Photo of Lord Sharpe of Epsom Lord Sharpe of Epsom The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for the Home Department

Illegal drugs devastate lives, ruin families and damage communities. The Government is committed to tackling these harms, including drug-related gang activity. a) Reducing the threat posed by transnational Western Balkans organised crime groups (WBOCGs) is a government priority. We intensified the cooperation with our international partners to maximise the impact of our interventions WBOCGs wherever they are. Our engagements have already resulted in strategic partnerships with countries such as France, Germany, Italy, and Albania. In addition, the National Crime Agency (NCA) has well established relationships with law enforcement partners across Europe, as well as with Europol and Interpol, which include regular exchanges on organised crime with links to the Western Balkans. We are also seeking to improve criminal records sharing arrangements and law enforcement cooperation between the UK and the Western Balkan countries. b) Our ten-year Drug Strategy, From Harm to Hope, sets out a whole system approach to combat illicit drugs. As part of this the Home Office has committed £300m of dedicated investment over three years (April 2022 – March 2025) to tackle every phase of the drug supply chain and make it considerably harder for criminal gangs to operate. With this funding we are supporting intelligence-led approaches to interdict and seize drugs as they cross the UK border and prevent criminal groups from bringing drugs to our streets. Across the whole of the UK, the NCA, Border Force, and local police are working in partnership, using intelligence and technology to secure our borders against drug trafficking. We are also funding upstream activity to tackle overseas drug supply, which is aimed at disrupting the criminal networks seeking to traffic illegal drugs to the UK. This includes building close enforcement partnerships with law enforcement agencies in mainland Europe.

The NCA has estimated that the UK consumes 117 tonnes of cocaine each year. We do not hold data on the amount of cocaine arriving in the UK as a result of Balkan OCGs. In the financial year ending 2023, police and Border Force seized 18.58 tonnes of powder cocaine, the second largest quantity of the substance since records began.

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