A ground-breaking study by Bedfordshire Police has found that £113 million is being spent on cannabis and cocaine in Bedfordshire each year.
The report also found that 34,000 people in the county are taking illegal drugs.
Bedfordshire Police analyst Scott Owen produced the ‘drugs market’ report, the first of its kind by any UK police force and presented his finding at an eastern region police conference last week (6 September).
The conference heard presentations from police and other experts on the impact of drugs and gangs in the area.
Police and partner agencies from all the different counties in the eastern region attended, as well as from London and Northamptonshire.
“Drugs drive demand across a whole range of public services, from healthcare and social services through to ourselves as a police force,” said detective chief superintendent Mark Lay, Bedfordshire Police’s head of serious and organised crime and chair of the Home Office’s drugs tactical working group.
“Gun crime and other serious violence is often fuelled by clashes between rival drugs gangs, while drugs can also be a motivator for things such as burglary.
“We are leading the way nationally with some pioneering work on how we respond to the issue of drugs and the exploitation of vulnerable people, and are determined to ensure it has a lasting impact and helps rid our communities of this corrosive commodity.”
Bedfordshire Police have now been asked to lead on a government-backed project involving forces from across the eastern region to renew their efforts in tackling illegal drugs.
Police officers will also work more closely with partners that deliver public health and recovery programmes with recommendations from the drugs market profile and local authority research being taken forward by different agencies.