HC Deb 15 January 1993 vol 216 cc826-7W
Mr. Alton

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether he will use sequestrated assets from drug dealers in Liverpool to fund the expansion of the city's Dare to Care anti-drugs project; and if he will make a statement on measures he is taking to combat drug abuse in Liverpool.

Mr. Jack

Under present public accounting arrangements confiscated money is treated in the same way as fine revenue, and paid directly into the Consolidated Fund from which Government expenditure generally—including substantial support for drug-related work—is financed. In April 1991 the seized assets fund was established to recycle assets confiscated here under drug confiscation agreements with other countries to support work against drug misuse. £3.2 million has been made available from the fund in the current financial year to enforcement agencies and a variety of individual projects, including some based in Liverpool, directed against drugs misuse. The possibility of further funding being made available from this source is under consideration, but the final amount will depend on the success of international operations to confiscate the assets of drug traffickers.

Under the drugs prevention initiative, a local drugs prevention team has been working in Liverpool since 1990. The team has provided financial and other support to a wide range of drugs prevention projects, including Dare to Care.

Merseyside police play an active role in tackling drug misuse. In addition to enforcing the law, they are involved with other agencies, including the regional health authority and the education authority, in a number of prevention and education initiatives.

Mr. Alton

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many new drug addicts registered on Merseyside in 1992; how many crimes on Merseyside were drug related over the past five years; and what resources are available to patrol Liverpool bay and the River Mersey to combat the smuggling of drugs into the area via small craft.

Mr. Jack

Addict statistics for 1992 are not yet available. In 1991, the number of new addicts notified to the Home Office in the Merseyside police area was 893.

Information on drug-related offences in Merseyside is contained in table A2.1 of the Home Office Statistical Bulletin "Statistics of Drugs Seizures and Offenders Dealt With, UK 1991 (Area Tables)", a copy of which is in the Library.

Anti-smuggling control is the responsibility of the Customs and Excise Department. Patrol of the areas mentioned forms a part of the duties of the flexible anti-smuggling teams based in the Liverpool area. These comprise a total of 38 staff plus support of two further officers whose specific job is to gather coastal intelligence. There are, in addition, further staff based at Holyhead, Heysham and Ellesmere Port who can be called on should the need arise.

The staff are supported by a locally based Searider semi-rigid inflatable vessel, Customs marine branch cutters, aerial surveillance and mobile radar vans as necessary. A wide range of other technical aids is also available to local staff as Liverpool is the centre for the research and development of Customs equipment.

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