The Home Office has admitted that the street price of both cocaine and heroin has fallen by nearly half in the last ten years, making the most dangerous illegal drugs cheaper than they have ever been. Based on reports from police forces, the Home Office said that cocaine is now being sold for as little as £20 a gram in some parts of the country.
Cocaine cheaper than lager and wine as drug price falls by halfA line of cocaine is now cheaper than a pint of lager
or a glass of wine, official figures have disclosed.
By James Kirkup, Political Correspondent
The most common price for the drug is £40 per gram. Home Office figures for 1998 show the average price was £77.
A gram of heroin can now be bought for as little as £25, with the average price somewhere between £40 and £50 per gram. In 1998, the average was £74.
The Home Office figures are based on data collected from police forces and the Serious Organised Crime Agency.
According to DrugScope, a charity that provides research and advice on drugs policy, gram of cocaine can make between 10 and 20 lines for snorting, depending on its strength.
That means a line of cocaine can cost as little as £1, with an average price per line of between £2 and £4.
The average price of a pint of lager is around £2.75, although some pub chains have reacted to the credit crunch by cutting the price of a pint as low as 99p. A glass of wine typically costs £3.50.
The figures were uncovered by the Tories, who said they proved that Labour had failed to stem the flow of Class A drugs into the UK.
James Brokenshire, the Conservative shadow home affairs minister, called the figures "startling."
He said: "These startling figures show the reality of drug use in Britain. Price falls of this nature indicate that the supply of hard drugs into this country has jumped. It's a serious indictment of Labour's failure to combat drug crime and stem the flow of drugs onto our streets."
Less cocaine is being intercepted on Britain's borders. The Home Office figures last year showed that the total weight of cocaine seized actually fell by 15 per cent a year, and it has halved in five years.
In 2003, 6,813 kg of cocaine was seized by police and customs officers in England and Wales. In 2006/07, it was 3,191kg. The last time cocaine seizures were smaller was 1999.
The Home Office suggested that drug prices may be falling partly because fewer people are buying drugs.
A spokesperson said: "A reduction in price may be associated with increased competition or reduced demand, not just increased availability.
"The British Crime Survey data shows that among 16-59 year olds Class A drug use in the past year declined from 3.4% in 2006/07 to 3.0% in 2007/08.
"In relation to cocaine the average purity at street level has declined continuously for a number of years, from 51% in 2003 to 34% in 2007."
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