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Drug-related crimes hit ten-year high

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Drug-related crimes hit ten-year high
Photo: DPA
18:09 CEST+02:00
The Criminal Investigation Department (BKD) released figures on Tuesday showing that cases of drug-related crimes have risen to the highest number in a decade.

In total 276,734 drug-related crimes were recorded by the BKD in 2014, a 10 percent rise on 2013. This figure includes every drug-related offence from possession of marijuana to smuggling, production and dealing of illegal substances.

The figures also show an increase of 3 percent in the number of people who died due to the consumption of illegal drugs to 1,032 people.

As has been the case for many years, heroin was the main cause of death, accounting for 467 fatalities, while the number of deaths due to consumption of 'legal highs' rose from 5 to 25 from 2013 to 2014. The average age of death was 38.

The term 'legal highs' refers to variety of substances whose chemical make-ups imitate that of illegal substances, but tweak them slightly to bypass the law. Along with increased usage of crystal meth, legal highs were cited by the report as posing a particular new danger to drug users . 

The government's commissioner for drugs, Marlene Mortler, of the Christian Democratic Union (CDU), announced on Tuesday that she was considering a new law which would enforce a general ban on legal highs.

“Every death from drugs is one death too many,” she said. "We are working on better regulations to bring the sale of legal highs under control."

The police also suspect that there has been a sharp increase in the consumption of ecstasy. They quote a number of 2,096 for incidents where they have detained first-time users of the drug. They also estimate an increase of 14 percent in first-time use of crystal meth (up 13 percent to 3,138) while citing a decrease in people picking up a heroin habit.

But a spokesperson for the BKD explained to The Local that numbers given for first-time users were calculated through the rather inexact science of police officers making deductions based on the behaviour of people whom they detained. The police know through experience how to tell that a person has consumed an illegal substance and the users themselves “sometimes admit to having taken the drug,” said the spokesperson.

The report states that ecstasy is produced in large quantities in laboratories in Belgium and the Netherlands. Crystal meth meanwhile is smuggled into Germany from the Czech Republic.

There is, however, positive news within the report. Drug-related deaths are lower than they were a decade ago, when in 2004 they totaled 1,385. Also, heroine, crack and cocaine usage have fallen back since then.

“The latest numbers showing a small increase in drug related deaths muddy the generally positive picture in the long term,” said Mortler.

“The number of deaths caused by drugs has halved since the year 2000. That is proof of the success of the drug and addiction policies of the government.”

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