DRUGS crimes soared faster in the North-East than almost anywhere else in the country last year.

The region’s police forces tackled a 17 per cent increase in drug related offences between 2017 and 2018, according to new figures.

Analysis of data from the Office of National Statistics shows that only the East Midlands matched the North-East when comparing the difference between recorded crimes year on year.

The stark rise in the North-East reflects a national trend, with the recording of drug offences in England and Wales increasing by seven per cent in the same time period.

Forces in the region recorded at least 5,911 such crimes last year and Northumbria’s officers have had to deal with a 25 per cent rise, while Durham has seen drug offences rise by 15 per cent and Cleveland one per cent. In North Yorkshire, there was a five per cent rise.

Earlier this month, the Echo reported that the use of opiates and crack cocaine was higher in the North-East than anywhere else in the country, with Middlesbrough and Hartlepool having among the highest rates and use trebling in North Yorkshire.

The rise was blamed on factors including county lines gangs, savvy marketing and cheap drugs by the Government.

Experts in the region then urged the Government to invest resources into a more holistic approach to the problem.