A UNITED Nations report has named the Isle of Man as having the highest cocaine use world-wide.
According to the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime’s World Drugs Report 2012, some 3.5 per cent of 15- to 64-year-olds in the island use cocaine.
The somewhat surprising findings of the high-profile report have been dismissed by both the Department of Home Affairs and the charity Drug Advice Service & Helpline (DASH).
It indicates the top 10 countries for cocaine use are: 1, Isle of Man; 2, Scotland; 3, Spain; 4, England; 5, Italy; 6, Wales; 7, USA; 8, Australia; 9, Monaco; 10, Saint Kitts and Nevis.
Meanwhile, for other drugs, it indicates the island’s cannabis use is alarmingly high – although the island is not featured in the top 10 – with 9.4 per cent of the population using the drug.
And it says ecstasy is used by 1.5 per cent of 15 to 64-year-olds and amphetamines by 0.9 per cent.
David Quirk MHK, political head of the Isle of Man Drug and Alcohol Strategy, said: ‘I am very concerned at the misleading figures being quoted. They do not reflect the true position in the island, which has low levels of drug use and good support and treatment for drug users.
‘The World Drug Report appears to have a deeply flawed methodology and should be disregarded.’
A Department of Home Affairs spokesman said the report findings appeared to be based on deeply flawed and extrapolated data from an ESPAD Report (European School Survey Project on Alcohol and Other Drugs) in 2007.
‘The data does not accord with the information held by the department; indeed it appears the findings are based on a small sample of teenagers which have then been applied across the entire Isle of Man population,’ the spokesman said.
The 2007 report, based on a small sample of teenagers, found 34 per cent of respondents had used cannabis during their lifetime, and the proportion reporting use of other drugs (16 per cent) was more than twice the average for countries tested.
The spokesman added: ‘If the Isle of Man had the highest level of cocaine use in the world per head of population, as suggested by the World Drug Report, drug-related crime would be extremely high to enable addicts to feed their habits.
‘Clearly this is not the case, as statistics contained in the Chief Constable’s annual report 2011-12 show a decrease of 40 per cent in crime levels in the Isle of Man since the introduction of neighbourhood policing.’
The report shows the value of cocaine seizures dropped from £101,000 in 2010-11 to £36,000 in 2011-12.
The total street-value of drugs seized reported by the police was £157,052, similar to the value seized in 2010-11.
There were 187 drug-related crimes recorded, of which 93 per cent were detected. It compares with 167 in 2010-11 of which 95.2 per cent were detected.
Despite the increase in recorded drug crimes on the previous year, it was a 16.6 per cent fall against the three-year average.
Shelly Stanley of DASH said: ‘It is unclear how accurate these figures are and one can understand the furore over the headline.
‘Yes, cocaine use is an issue in the island, how big that is, we don’t have reliable island-wide evidence for.
‘However, in all this, the figure for cannabis use per percentage of the population is quoted as 9.4 per cent which has been ignored and would have a significant effect on the health of the population and the economy. Our experience and data would show cannabis is by far the biggest issue followed by cocaine and other stimulant-type drugs.’