Isle Of Man / Ellan Vannin

Isle of Man drug dealing linked to rise in violent crime

Chief Constable Gary Roberts
Image caption Gary Roberts said when drug dealers lose money they often resort to violence

The Isle of Man's "lucrative" drugs trade was a key reason for an increase in violent crime over the past year, the chief constable has revealed.

Gary Roberts said "a significant proportion" of the rise in violence was "linked to drugs debt enforcement".

He said the seizure of drugs created "debt problems" for dealers, who "often extract a form of payment through violence".

Recorded crime on the island increased by 10% overall over 2018-19.

This included 50 additional violent crimes and 80 more drug offences, while drugs with a street value of £2m were also seized over the past two years.

The amount was "far and away the highest" Manx police had ever confiscated, Mr Roberts added.

'Lucrative market'

Writing in his annual report, he said the street value of drugs on the island was twice as much as in England and Wales, creating a "lucrative market" for organised criminal groups in Liverpool, who viewed the island as a "business opportunity".

Drug offences increased by 21% to 453, while assaults rose by 18% to 323 offences.

Overall, 2,053 criminal offences were recorded during the period.

Mr Roberts said: "Our assessment based on our evidence and intelligence is the local drugs market is worth several hundred thousand pounds a month.

"There is little doubt that a significant proportion of the increases in recorded violence is linked to drugs debt enforcement."

Despite the rising crime rate, Mr Roberts said the island remained four times safer than England and Wales.

"It's a very safe place," he added.

An extra £2.5m of funding for police was announced in the 2019-20 budget.

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