UK & World News
Postmen Acting As 'Unwitting Drug Mules'
Postmen are acting as unwitting drug mules in the deadly trade in illegal drugs and legal highs, a new report has warned.
Research by independent think-tank, the Centre for Social Justice (CSJ), said the UK is the "addicted man of Europe" and has become a hub for websites peddling legal highs such as Salvia and Green Rolex.
These are being ordered online and delivered across the country by mainstream postal services.
The CSJ also found that some websites give people the chance to buy class A drugs like heroin and crack cocaine on mail order.
The report, No Quick Fix, came as new figures showed deaths involving legal highs in England and Wales increased from 29 in 2011 to 52 last year.
The Government's response to legal highs, or New Psychoactive Substances (NPS), is "bureaucratic and inadequate", it says.
Since 2010, the Government has used temporary banning orders three times to control approximately 15 substances.
But during this time more than 150 new substances have emerged and are available online and in high street shops.
The report found that one in 12 young people (15 to 24-year-olds) in the UK said they had taken these drugs - the highest figure in Europe.
The CSJ warns that unless urgent action is taken the number of young people taking these drugs will continue to rise, along with the lethal consequences.
Britain is also facing a drink-related epidemic, with one in four adults in England drinking to harmful levels and one in 20 being "dependent drinkers".
Alcohol-related deaths have doubled since 1991 across the UK and liver disease is now one of the big five killers alongside heart and lung disease, strokes and cancer, it says.
The report also found that the UK has the highest rate of opiate addiction in Europe and the highest life-time use of amphetamines, cocaine and ecstasy.
Alcohol dependence amongst British men is second in western Europe and seventh overall. Among women, alcohol dependence is higher in Britain than anywhere else in Europe.