DRUG seizures spiked in South Wales last year with police recording their largest intake for four years.

South Wales Police recorded 4,223 drug seizures in 2018 to 2019, according to new figures released by the Home Office.

That was a rise of 20 per cent compared to the previous year, and the highest number since 2014 to 2015.

The figures mean there were 3,173 seizures for every million residents compared to a lower rate of 2,432 per million across England and Wales.

The Police Federation of England and Wales warned that a proliferation of illicit drugs in the UK is being used to fund serious crime, following the first rise in seizures for seven years.

Class A drugs such as heroin and cocaine, which are considered to be the most harmful, accounted for 28 per cent of seizures last year.

The most frequently seized drug was cannabis followed by cocaine.

Police and border forces in England and Wales recorded 153,000 seizures, an increase of more than 16,000 in one year.

Labour MP Jeff Smith, co-chair of the all-party parliamentary group for drug policy reform, said: “The illicit drugs market is resilient to the extent that a major bust is only likely to disrupt supply for a matter of hours.

“With UK drugs-related death figures the highest on record, the government’s approach to drugs policy is doing nothing to avert the public health crisis we face.

“The real priority should be to focus on education and to bring in harm-reduction measures that will save lives.”

Simon Kempton, operational policing lead for the Police Federation, said: “These figures demonstrate the importance of all law enforcement agencies in the UK working in a joined up way to tackle organised crime.”

He added: “They reflect the huge amount of drugs which are available, as both prices and purity of drugs on the street don’t seem to have been affected.

“This is a concern which underlines how there is a proliferation of illicit drugs on the streets of the UK, all of which goes to fund serious organised crime.”

Commenting on the figures, a spokesman for South Wales Police, Vale of Glamorgan, said: “Drugs have a devastating impact on our communities and we use all means at our disposal to halt the cultivation, supply and sale of all illegal drugs to make communities safer.

“Intelligence gathering and information from the public has resulted in many raids across South Wales.

“These raids have led to significant hauls of drugs being seized.

“Anyone with information about suspected drug dealers or any other crime can contact police on 101.

“Alternatively, you can contact Crimestoppers via 0800 555111. Information will be treated in total confidence.”