Drug squads declare victory in war on heroin as street supplies plunge
HEROIN levels in the UK have halved, causing positive tests to plummet and the drug's street value to double.
The Serious and Organised Crime Agency (Soca) and Scottish Crime and Drug Enforcement Agency, which both tackle major smuggling operations, have made a number of seizures.
They claim busting "upstream" heroin trafficking operations before they reach the UK, has cut off supply at its source.
However, they have also been helped by disease affecting poppy crops in Afghanistan, cutting the country's illegal opium production by almost half, from 56.1kg per hectare to 29.2.
Figures from Concateno, which tests new prisoners and people on court orders to stay drug-free across the UK, have revealed positive tests fell to 22 per cent in December, the first time it had fallen so low after previously hovering around the 48 per cent mark.
Meanwhile, the value of the drug has doubled, to £40,000 a kilogram.
There are also concerns that, because of the shortage, heroin is being cut to a greater extent than previously, meaning addicts have to take more to feel the same effect.
However, if more heroin comes into the country, then it is expected the purity levels of the drug sold on the street would also increase, putting people at risk of overdosing.
Graham Sievers, spokesman for Concateno, said: "We've seen smaller blips before, minor ups and downs, but nothing like this.
"We contacted John Ramsey, a toxicologist at Tic Tac Communications, who advises the government on drugs. He said this supports anecdotal evidence of weaker heroin that is less pure than normal.
"We are issuing an alert because if heroin comes back people will be taking higher doses than they are able to tolerate."
However, Soca believes it is winning the war on drugs and can maintain the low levels of heroin able to make it into the country,
Nigel Kirby, the head of drug intelligence at Soca, said: "We are working very closely with partners on the heroin route from Afghanistan to Turkey and onwards across Europe. High-quality intelligence is being produced, shared in real time, and acted upon.
"This is enabling international law enforcement to take effective action against the people behind the heroin trade in a variety of ways, from the seizure of more than 2,000kg of heroin in 2009-10 before it ever reached the UK."
A Scottish Government spokesman said last night: "Scotland-wide we are making significant progress in seizing drugs.
"Since 2008-9, the SCDEA has seized over 1,100kg of Class A drugs, with an estimated street value of over £64 million."