News story

Record drug seizures as Border Force cracks down on illegal drugs

Border Force have made the highest number of illegal drug seizures since records began, as action at the border helps stop illegal drugs reaching the country.

In the year ending March 2023, Border Force made a total of 25,834 drug seizures, a 24% increase from last year and the highest on record.    

Over 92 tonnes of illegal drugs were seized by police and Border Force, the highest volume since 2003/4.  

In addition, record quantities of so-called party drugs, cocaine and ketamine, were also taken off the streets last year through relentless police action and a zero-tolerance approach to illegal drug use. The total quantity of cocaine seized by the police rose by 100% to 3.36 tonnes, while the quantity of ketamine confiscated rose 189% to 500kg.  

Border Force saw a strong performance on cocaine seizures last year with over 15 tonnes seized. Border Force have consistently seized over 9 tonnes of cocaine every year for the last 3 years due to bigger intelligence-led seizures.  

Today, Minister for Legal Migration Tom Pursglove is visiting Border Force officers at Stansted Airport to thank them for their commitment to breaking drug supply chains and stopping harmful substances entering the UK. 

Minister for Legal Migration and the Border Tom Pursglove MP said:   

We are committed to stopping dangerous drugs from coming into the country, where they fuel violence and exploitation and cause significant harm to our communities. 

Today we’ve seen a record level of seizures demonstrating that police and Border Force are working relentlessly to stop illegal drugs from coming into the country and keep them off our streets. 

Record amounts of herbal cannabis were seized by police and Border Force last year, which combined was a 96% increase from the previous year.  

Working in partnership, police forces, Border Force, the National Crime Agency and international partners use intelligence and technology to keep our borders safe, prevent drug trafficking and bring those responsible to justice.   

Border Force officers use a range of methods including hi-tech search equipment to detect and stop illegal and restricted goods that criminals attempt to bring into the country.   

Tackling the supply of illegal drugs entering the UK’s drugs market is a key element of the government’s 10-year drugs strategy. The strategy is backed with a record £3 billion funding over 3 years to tackle the supply of illicit drugs through relentless policing action and building a world-class system of treatment and recovery to turn people’s lives around and prevent crime.  

Minister for Crime, Policing and Fire Chris Philp said:  

We will not relent when it comes to disrupting criminal enterprises and locking up those involved in this soulless trade. Today’s stats speak for   themselves, sending a clear message to criminals that they will be caught.  

This government takes a zero-tolerance approach to both supply and possession of illegal drugs and I am grateful to the dedicated Border Force and police officers for protecting our communities from these dangerous substances. 

Since the start of the drug strategy funding in April 2022, law enforcement have successfully delivered over 4,500 disruptions to organised crime groups and closed over 2,000 county lines, meeting the 3-year target of 2,000 18 months early. 

Police have also made over 50,000 drug tests on suspects who have been arrested, which helps divert them into life-changing treatment. 

The drugs strategy is also investing £780 million to build a world-class treatment system to turn people’s lives around and stop the cycle of crime. To support this, the government has increased the drug and alcohol treatment workforce with 1,670 additional staff and stood up 106 new Combating Drugs Partnerships in every area of England.

Published 18 January 2024