§ 27. Mr. Harris
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will make a statement on recent initiatives being co-ordinated through his Department to combat drug misuse and trafficking.
§ Mr. Douglas Hogg
The Government continue to intensify their campaign against drugs. The Home Office programme to help finance overseas projects relevant to this campaign will be increased from £500,000 to £2 million next year. Schemes under consideration include working with the United Nations fund for drug abuse control in its plan to reduce drug abuse and trafficking in India, to support law enforcement projects in the coca growing countries of Latin America, and assistance to West Africa, which is emerging as a major drug trafficking route.
We are continuing to boost the resources available to the police and Customs in the fight against drugs. Since May 1986 17 dedicated drugs wings have been added to regional crime squads in England and Wales, with 221 additional police officers to man them. The strengthening of the national drugs intelligence unit will continue in 1988–89, with an increase in staff to improve international 679W liaison, and provision for a six-man drugs profit confiscation team. On the Customs side there will be about 450 additional staff allocated to Customs work in 1988–89, mainly on the prevention of drug smuggling. Three hundred and sixty will be employed on preventive controls on passengers and freight at ports and airports, and some 90 investigation, prosecution and support staff will be added to strengthen drug investigations, including the tracing of assets of traffickers suspected of drug smuggling.
Under the Drug Trafficking Offences Act 1986, the High Court had by 2 December made 140 restraint or charging orders, freezing assets of the order of £7 million, and the first confiscation orders are beginning to be made as cases work their way through the Crown court.