By Nigel Morris for Independent. According to policing minister Mike Penning, the Government’s strategy in the war on drugs is working because long-term levels of the abuse of illicit substances are falling. Whether you agree depends on how you interpret the word “working”.

Figures issued on 23 July suggested illegal drugs are used every day by 220,000 adults in England and Wales and every week by a further 800,000 people.

Another 1.8 million acknowledge taking a banned substance at least once a year, bringing the total number of drug users to around 2.8 million people, or one in 12.

That proportion might be markedly lower than a peak in 2004, but still represents significant numbers of people who knowingly disregard Britain’s long-standing drugs legislation.

More than one-third take the most harmful class A substances, such as heroin and cocaine – a rate of use broadly unchanged in two decades.

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