Fighting against Drugs in EU

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25 November 2009

Drugs remain a serious issue worldwide, and Europe is no exception. The drug use levels in Europe remain high. The use of amphetamines and ecstasy remains steady, although cannabis shows evidence of a decline in use, especially among young people.

Cocaine and heroin maintain a firm hold on the drug scene in Europe. Turkey is the most important transit country for heroin entering the European Union, with a reported 13.2 tonnes seized in 2007, compared to 2.7 tonnes in 2002.

CEPOL carries out key activities in order to assist police officers in EU Member States tackle cross-border crime. The recent CEPOL activity - Fighting against Drugs in EU – attracted 21 participants from 13 Member States.

The course, organised by the Cyprus Police Academy, took place in Nicosia on 16-20 November 2009. The course was supported by Belgium and Poland, with contributions from Europol and experts from CECLAD-M (Centre de Coordination de la Lutte Anti-Drogue en Méditerranée), EMCDDA (European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction) and the DEA (Drug Enforcement Administration) from the United States.

Participants had the opportunity to find out about current trends concerning drug abuse in the EU, as well as learn about the support provided by Europol to Member States. Further cooperation in the area of law enforcement with regards to drug trafficking and drug production was highlighted.

Various changes in the different drugs markets have been identified. For example, although methamphetamine is yet to make significant inroads into the stimulant drug market in Western Europe (cocaine or amphetamine still dominate), some signs have been identified that methamphetamine is starting to edge into new territory (beyond the Czech Republic).

Participants were informed about developments in investigation techniques and more specifically, methods of information gathering. The European Union early-warning system (rapid-response mechanism set-up in 1997), has tracked over 90 substances to date. In 2008, 13 new psychoactive substances were reported by Member States to EMCDDA and Europol. For the first time, a synthetic cannabinoid, JWH-018, was among the reported drugs.

Monitoring of the Internet is an ‘increasingly important element in identifying new drug trends’ which is becoming a major marketplace for psychoactive substances.

In 2009, EMCDDA surveyed 115 online shops in 17 European countries. Innovations of the online market include the creation of distinct brands and attractive packaging, a prime example being ‘Spice’.

Participants were also informed about CEPOL’s common curriculum on drug trafficking, which provides recommendations about police training on the topic with a European dimension. Member States can use the recommendations within their national police training programmes according to their individual needs.

Participants heard from Laurent Laniel, EMCDDA, that although little is known about the outcomes of drug offences, a step towards filling this information gap is to explore what happens to those who violate drug laws in Member States by examining national statistics (police, prosecutors, courts) according to the type of offence (personal use, supply) and the types of outcomes (fine, custody, treatment, community work, etc.). Custodial sentences are rarely handed out for drug use or possession, but are common for supply-related offences.

The Chief of Cyprus Police, Michael Papageorgiou, at his closing speech reassured the participants that: 'The Cyprus Police will continue its efforts in the fight against the abuse of drugs and other drug related offences.”

Siegfried Lotz, a participant from Germany, said: 'It was my first experience of a CEPOL course. There were very good workshop scenarios - I really learned from those.”

For further information, please contact the Cyprus Police Academy, CEPOL team, email:

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