Review of drugs. Executive summary. 2020. (accessed 5 August 2020)

Children's Commissioner for England. The same mistakes that led to child sexual exploitation are being repeated with gangs. 2019. (accessed 5 August 2020)

National Records of Scotland. 1,187 drug-deaths in 2018: up 27 per cent in a year. 2019. (accessed 5 August 2020)

Office for National Statistics. Deaths related to drug poisoning in England and Wales: 2018 registrations. 2019. (accessed 5 August 2020)

The illegal drugs market

13 August 2020
Volume 29 · Issue 15

Drug-related deaths in England, Wales and Scotland have hit record levels. In England and Wales, 4359 deaths from drug poisoning were recorded in 2018; this was the highest figure since records began in 1993 (Office for National Statistics (ONS), 2019). Around 2917 (two-thirds) of the deaths reported were as a result of drug misuse, a trend that has continued over the past decade (ONS, 2019). In the past year, the number of drug-related deaths increased in Scotland by 27%, to a record high of 1187, putting Scotland on a par with the USA in per capita terms (National Records of Scotland, 2019).

The illegal drugs market exploits vulnerable people, particularly the young, with around 27 000 young people in England now identifying as gang members (Children's Commissioner for England, 2019). Many young people are lured into drug dealing, often with fatal consequences. The supply and distribution of drugs has become increasingly violent.

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