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Buying drugs on the dark net is on the rise in England

According to Global Drugs Survey, the percentage of purchases has more than doubled over the past five years

The purchase of drugs on the dark net is on the rise in England with the percentage more than doubling since 2014. According to the Global Drug Survey 2019 results published this morning, 28 per cent of drug users surveyed in England said they had sourced illicit substances over the dark net, a figure that stood at 12 per cent five years ago.

The data, which was collected from 60,000 people across 22 countries, found that 28 per cent of those in England had used the dark net to personally buy drugs, arrange for others to buy drugs, or buy drugs on behalf of someone else.

People in England purchase more recreational substances on the encrypted network than most countries in the world, the report says, coming third behind Sweden – where 33 per cent of respondents reported procuring drugs in this way – and Finland, where the figure stands at 45 per cent.

Of those surveyed worldwide, 27 per cent admitted to obtaining drugs in this manner for the first time, with MDMA, cannabis, and LSD being the most popular narcotics ordered.

The founder of the Global Drugs Survey, Professor Adam Woodstock, says the UK’s early adoption of online marketplaces like Amazon goes some way to explaining the findings. He told Dazed: “This is a natural extension of e-commerce. I think if you use the ratings then you’re less likely to get ripped off. From a bias point of view, then it makes complete sense.”

He also cited forums like Reddit as having an influence on the rise, saying that people who are linked to online communities are more likely to source their drugs online than on the streets. He added: “Most of the time, people are getting information to go to the dark net from Reddit or websites or they’re getting shown by a friend. I think any country that starts off engaged, you are going to see a year on year increase.”

Ordering your gear online is much safer than other forms of purchasing, says Professor Woodstock, which partly explains the increasing number of dark net transactions for narcotics. He tells Dazed: “I think the dark net is probably the biggest challenge to drug regulation, policy, and law enforcement that they’ve had in 50 years. We’ve already seen dealers being caught through CCTV cameras during the rise of home delivery, and I think the dark net is just another way of getting them conveniently delivered to your door”.

Professor Woodstock tells Dazed that he expects the figure to continue to rise, given the increasing pervasiveness of technology and the internet in our daily lives. “I don’t see this going away," he says, "which is why that figure globally is so important. This isn’t just a gradual trickle up of people who have always used the dark net, this is people who are coming into dark net drug markets for the first time.”

You can read the full Global Drug Survey 2019 here and follow their twitter for updates here.