ALMOST 30,000 cannabis plants, 27 kilos of cocaine, 11,000 doses of Ecstasy and eight kilograms of heroin were among illegal drugs seized by North-East police forces last year.

Seizures of illicit substances grew in the region by seven per cent in just twelve months – with North Yorkshire seeing a rise of 17 per cent.

The number of drugs seizures carried out by forces in the area is at its highest since 2014, with more than 8,000 taking place in 2018/19.

In the North-East, there were more seizures of potentially deadly substances like methadone and morphine than anywhere else in the country, with the region second only to London for cocaine.

According to Government figures analysed by the Echo, police forces here carried out the highest rate of seizures per one million people outside of the capital, and had the highest rate altogether for both Class A and Class C drugs.

Nationally, North Yorkshire Police oversaw the highest rate of seizures linked to barbiturates and the second highest for amphetamines, which were seized at a rate 19 times higher than that for England and Wales.

Cleveland Police had among the highest rates nationally for substances including cocaine, heroin, methadone, morphine, anabolic steroids, temazepam and benzodiazepines.

Figures for the force show that its rate of seizures relating to Class C substances was more than four times higher than the national rate.

However, the force is one of just six nationwide that saw a drop in the rate of drugs seizures per million people in 2018/19.

Detective Inspector Chris Smiles, from Cleveland Police Community Drugs Enforcement Team, said: “The force takes a proactive approach to seizing drugs and officers take part in regular targeted activity including operations in licensed premises across our town centres, carrying out drugs warrants at specific properties and business premises and targeting organised criminal gangs.

“Drugs cause misery amongst local communities and that is not tolerated in Cleveland. Anyone who reports drug activity in their local area can expect that information to be acted upon, and there are multiple examples of our dedicated team and our neighbourhood teams carrying out this targeted activity on a daily basis.”

Nationally, police forces and Border Control carried out 153,136 seizures in the same period, representing a 12 per cent increase year on year, and the first increase since 2011/12.

Across the country, cannabis was the most commonly seized drug and cocaine the second. The majority of seizures related to Class B substances.