COCAINE USERS are “wrecking the lives of others, especially young people”, South Yorkshire’s Police and Crime Commissioner Dr Alan Billings has warned.
His comments came after the Home Office revealed that use of the Class A drug is on the rise, particularly among wealthier households.
On Tuesday, Britain’s most senior police officer hit out at hypocritical middle class cocaine users who worry about issues like the environment and fair trade but believe there is “no harm” in taking the class A drug.
Metropolitan Police Commissioner Cressida Dick said: “There is this challenge that there are a whole group of middle-class – or whatever you want to call them – people who will sit round … happily think about global warming and fair trade, and environmental protection and all sorts of things, organic food, but think there is no harm in taking a bit of cocaine.
“Well, there is; there’s misery throughout the supply chain.”
Dr Billings said he disagreed that it was an issue for the middle classes alone.
He said: “This is not a specifically middle-class matter. People can be thoughtless and lack the imagination to think through what they are doing in any social group.
“Those who use drugs, particularly cocaine, for recreational purposes are unwittingly involving themselves in activity that is wrecking the lives of others, especially young people.
“The supply chain that stands behind all drug taking leads to violence on our streets and criminally exploits young people, drawing them into illegal and dangerous activity.”
His counterpart in West Yorkshire, Mark Burns-Williamson, also voiced his concerns, saying drug users “may believe they are indulging in occasional and what they see as ‘harmless’ recreational drug taking, when in fact they are helping to fill the pockets of the criminal gangs who are a blight on society”.
Cocaine is the second most commonly used drug, after cannabis, and its use among people from wealthier homes in England and Wales is at its highest in nearly a decade, official figures indicate.
The proportion of adults living in households with an income of at least £50,000 who reported taking the drug in powder form in the past year has risen from 2.2 per cent in 2014/15 to 3.4 per cent in 2017/18.
By contrast, the proportion of 16 to 59-year-olds in the lowest household income category – under £10,000 – who reported taking the substance went down from 3.4 per cent to two per cent over the same period.
Drug use has come under the spotlight in recent weeks amid warnings the demand for illegal substances is helping fuel spiralling levels of knife crime and violence. Ms Dick’s remarks followed similar interventions by London mayor Sadiq Khan and Justice Secretary David Gauke.