UK is named cocaine capital of Europe for a second year


Line of cocaine and razor blade

The UK has been named the cocaine capital of Europe, according to an EU drug agency report.

It suggests for the second year running more young British people have used cocaine than those in other European countries.

Around 4.8% of 15 to 34-year-olds in the UK are estimated to have taken the drug over the last year.

We need to rapidly identify new drugs and emerging trends
Wolfgang Gotz
Director, European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction

The European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction says overall use of cocaine in the UK is falling.

Ecstasy and amphetamine use is stable or also declining across Europe, according to the report.

But it warns that the rapid growth and popularity of legal highs could overtake cocaine use in Europe.

A record 600 websites selling legal highs were recorded across Europe.

Emerging trends

With a shift in the market authorities face a major battle in the next decade, says the report.

It adds that suppliers keep one step ahead by quickly offering new alternatives to banned products.

Image caption Mephedrone, which was a legal high, was made a Class B drug in 2010

The agency's director Wolfgang Gotz says the drugs market is sophisticated.

"This is reflected not only in the sheer number of new substances appearing on the market but also in their diversity and in how they are produced, distributed and marketed," he says.

"We need to rapidly identify new drugs and emerging trends."

The agency director says it's crucial Europe works together on the fight against drugs.

"Individual national efforts are likely to prove ineffective," he says.

"We need to co-ordinate our responses across Europe, if we are to stay ahead in this rapidly developing game of cat and mouse."