§ Lord Adebowale
asked Her Majesty's Government:
What is their estimate of the number of crack cocaine users in England and Wales for each year for which figures are available; and what estimates they have set for the years 2005–06 and 2006–07 for the number of crack cocaine users in England and Wales; [HL900]
What is their estimate of the number of heroin users in England and Wales for each year for which figures are available; and what estimates they have set for the years 2005–06 and 2006–07 for the number of heroin users in England and Wales; and [HL901]
Table: Estimated number of people aged 16 to 59 who used (a) crack cocaine and (b) heroin in the year before interview based on BCS data. 1996 1998 2000 2001–02 2002–03 Drug Crack cocaine Low estimate 11,000 13,000 76,000 38,000 46,000 Best estimate 25,000 28,000 108,000 56,000 64,000 High estimate 54,000 60,000 153,000 83,000 90,000 Heroin Low estimate 26,000 20,000 57,000 30,000 31,000 Best estimate 46,000 39,000 85,000 47,000 46,000 High estimate 81,000 75,000 126,000 71,000 69,000
1. Source 1996, 1998, 2000, 2001–02 and 2002–03 BCS.
2. As with all survey estimates, particularly those for comparatively rare behaviours such as class A drug use, these estimates are subject to uncertainty as shown by the low and high estimates shown in the table. Apparently large year on year changes can occur by chance and cannot necessarily be considered indicative of a real trend over time.
3. From 2001, the reporting year for BCS data switched from calendar to financial years.
4. The figures are calculated using population estimates provided by the Office for National Statistics.
However it should be noted that as a survey of households, the BCS does not cover some groups who may have relatively high rates of heroin and crack cocaine use, such as the homeless and prisoners. Nor, in practice, will any household survey cover people whose lives are so busy or chaotic that they are hardly ever at home. These estimates will therefore underestimate the number of heroin and crack users in the country. Research to obtain better estimates of the number of problematic drug users (PDUs) on a regular basis is currently underway. At present we estimate that for around 250,000 PDUs in England and Wales, drugs cause considerable harm to themselves and others.