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Drugs are "a real threat to our population"

Drugs are

Wednesday 01 July 2020

Drugs are "a real threat to our population"

The Guernsey Border Agency seized £1.3m worth of drugs in 2019 - an eight-fold increase on the year before - with a "concerning" rise in the number of people caught bringing cocaine into the island.

The vast majority (£1.1m) was related to Class B cannabis, which was seized at the borders 64 times over the course of the year.

But Class A substances have also impacted the significant rise in the amount of drugs seized, with the total increasing from just £158,000 worth in 2018 to £218,000 in 2019. 

However, Head of Bailiwick Law Enforcement, Ruari Hardy, said drug importations could have been going unnoticed in previous years.

"2018 was a year, particularly for the Guernsey Border Agency, where their resources, unfortunately, were so stretched that their effectiveness wasn't great," he explained.

drugs seized 2019 GBA report BLE

Pictured: The amount of drugs seized by the GBA rose from £158,000 worth in 2018 to £1.3m worth in 2019.

"The response of the staff in 2019 was exceptional and we've really got back into and focused upon the work around the movement of drugs across our borders. The eight-fold increase in the value of drugs seized is a testament to the excellent work that's been going on at our borders in terms of disrupting criminal networks bringing in controlled drugs. That is a real positive.

"The negative side; it's an indication of how many drugs are clearly being brought across our borders into this jurisdiction. It really does pose a threat to our population."

While Class A drugs only made up £218,000 of the annual total, it was spread out across 28 different seizures with a particular rise in recorded cocaine importations.

"You have to put it into the context of the United Kingdom," commented Mr Hardy. "Cocaine use and seizure has risen exponentially over the past five to ten years. We've seen what law enforcement describes as 'county lines'; the cocaine market spreading from the big urban centres into more rural England. That has brought with it an upsurge in violence as well as cocaine being supplied more broadly throughout the UK .

"We are not immune to that and the drug market in Guernsey does attract a higher street price than the UK, so people involved in organised crime potentially see profit in getting drugs into Guernsey.

"The positive; we've taken these drugs out of circulation. We've dismantled and got into some organised crime groups and arrested people.

Ruari Hardy BLE GBA annual report

Pictured: Head of Bailiwick Law Enforcement, Ruari Hardy, with the 2019 Annual Report.

"The negative; there is an increase in people wanting to obtain these types of drugs, which shows it's a real threat to our population.

"It's an area we have to be involved in and will continue to be involved in."

Last year, two UK-based organised crime groups involved in drug trafficking and money laundering were dismantled or seriously disrupted because of the GBA's actions, while five local syndicates with UK links were also impacted.

2019's statistics were released today in the Bailiwick Law Enforcement Annual Report, which can be read in full online.

Pictured top: The Guernsey Border Agency provides border control.

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