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Plans were announced by the government today (Monday 31 March) to strengthen powers to seize substances used by criminals to cut with illegal drugs.
The Home Office will enhance legislation allowing law enforcement agencies to enter and search premises and seize so-called cutting agents.
Most cocaine and crack available at street level contains one or more of these substances, which can pose unknown risks to users’ health.
Analysis of drugs seized in the UK has shown substances including levamisole – an animal wormer – are added by criminals to increase the amount of money they make.
Crime Prevention Minister Norman Baker said:
I am very concerned that, in order to maximise their profits, drug dealers are using cutting agents that may present a hazard to health.
People taking these drugs are playing Russian Roulette with their lives, as they have no idea what is in them.
The action we are taking to enhance the powers available to police and law enforcement agencies will help combat this dangerous and reckless trade.
The coalition government pledged in the 2010 Drug Strategy to tackle the trade in cutting agents, working with other countries, legitimate importers and international partners.
A consultation launched last year gathered views on strengthening available powers and, as a result, the Home Office is now planning to introduce a general power to allow law enforcement to seize and destroy any substance reasonably suspected of being intended for use as a drug cutting agent.
In 2012, more than 7 tonnes of benzocaine, lidocaine and phenacetin – 3 types of cutting agents – were seized after being brought into the UK in suspicious circumstances.
The Home Office will strengthen existing laws as soon as parliamentary time allows.