MONEY TO FIGHT DRUG BARONS NOW SPENT ON SAVING POLAR BEARS
DANGER: More heroin is coming to Britain
DAVID MILIBAND was under fire last night as it emerged that millions of pounds earmarked for fighting the drugs trade is to go to dealing with *global warming.
The Foreign Office is to slash funding to its Drugs and International Crime Department to focus resources on “new policy goals”, such as tackling climate change, which is threatening polar bears and other species.
The number of staff in the dedicated department has already been halved and is to fall further during the next two years, prompting fears that drugs *barons supplying narcotics to Britain will find it easier to escape justice.
MPs on the Commons foreign affairs committee last night branded the *situation “unacceptable”.
In a strongly worded report they called on the Government to ensure replacement funding was found before further cuts are made.
The Home Office, which is taking over responsibility for fighting the global drugs trade, has so far refused to plug the funding gap.
The Foreign Office anti-drugs budget is relatively modest (about £9million last year) but its officers provide intelligence about drug smuggling from around the world.
Mr Miliband, a former Environment Secretary, has made climate change a top priority, resulting in the relocation of 60 staff from European embassies to “priority countries for climate change” such as Brazil, India and South Korea.
The committee said the move was “understandable” but added: “We are concerned that the increased focus on climate change may overshadow other equally important aspects of Foreign Office work.”
The report comes as police warn of a growing threat to Britain from high-grade white heroin.
The Serious Organised Crime Agency said last week that the drug, blamed for a higher level of overdoses, was making a comeback *after all but disappearing in the Eighties and Nineties.
The highly refined drug, mostly *imported from Afghanistan, is water soluble, making it easier for addicts to snort or inject.
The danger it poses was highlighted in the film Pulp Fiction when the character played by Uma Thurman went into cardiac arrest after snorting white heroin she had mistaken for cocaine.
The report from the foreign *affairs committee also highlights *concerns about the budget squeeze placed on the Foreign Office by the pound’s falling value.
As well as running a network of foreign embassies and consulates, the department has to pay hefty subscription fees to international bodies such as the United Nations.
The committee’s Labour chairman Mike Gapes said the Foreign Office faced “serious financial pressures” *after the Treasury scrapped a scheme to protect departments from fluctuating currency values.
He said it was “deplorable” that British operations overseas would suffer as a result.
The committee also raised concerns about a number of Foreign Office *activities, including:
The loss of 3,650 blank passports and 8,100 blank visas in a robbery in *Manchester last year.
The “dispiriting saga” of the British ambassador’s residence in Dublin, which was sold and bought back with a loss of £1.4million
The loss of more than £1million on a project to build 25 houses in Pakistan.
Sunday February 8,2009
By Jason Groves