DRUGS with a street value of nearly £800,000 have been seized in the island in the last three years, leading to major disruption in the supply chain of heroin and cocaine, the House of Keys was told.
Home Affairs Minister Juan Watterson MHK was quizzed by Leonard Singer (Ramsey) over the staffing and funding of the drug squad.
Mr Watterson said it was a testament to success in seizing drugs, that there had been a number of times over the last two years when this had resulted in a shortage or, occasionally, a complete absence of heroin and similar shortages of other drugs, notably cocaine.
He added: ‘Indeed, the Chief Constable’s Report shows the value of illegal drugs seized in the last three years is almost £800,000.
‘However, it is impossible to assess what percentage this is of the illegal drugs actually imported.’
The minister explained the constabulary has a dedicated proactive drugs unit and at any one time, up to a dozen specialist officers can be deployed to support the front-line neighbourhood policing teams.
He said it was not possible to separate out the specific designated budget for the drug squad.
But Mr Singer suggested that drug squad officers were also employed in doing work in other sections of the force.
And he added: ‘Is it not a fact that the seizures that are made are low-level seizures of small dealers and, in fact, there are very few, if any, major importers from whom illegal drugs are seized and a great percentage of drugs entering this island are probably not seized at all?’
Mr Watterson replied: ‘I do not particularly agree with the member’s assertion that there are huge quantities of drugs going in that are not being seized.
‘As I say, over the last three years, almost £800,000 of drugs have been seized. That is reflected in the higher cost of drugs in the Isle of Man.’
He insisted that the primary role of the specialist officers was to work with the central drug squad but, on an operational basis, they may be called away to assist with other areas.
John Houghton (Douglas North) said the Manx constablulary needed to liaise with the chief constables in Merseyside and Lancashire to arrest offenders on the other side of the water, before they reached the Isle of Man. The minister said he agreed with that principle.