A NORTH EAST MP has launched a scathing attack on social media companies and drug dealers "for facilitating drugs crime and illegal activity".

Labour MP for Easington, in County Durham, Grahame Morris has long argued for the need to reform the government's existing drugs policy.

Read more: Echo sting reveals dealers are using Instagram to sell drugs in Darlington

Mr Morris said he has often seen people turn to drugs due to circumstances borne out of deprivation and despair.

And after viewing the findings of an investigation by The Northern Echo into the advertisement and sale of illegal drugs on Instagram he said dealers "have no concern about the damage they are doing to the community" while also branding the current prosecution system as "the worst of all worlds". 

The Northern Echo:

Mr Morris said: "I am shocked but not surprised by the failure of social media companies to actively close down accounts facilitating drugs crime and illegal activity.

"Social media platforms are making illicit drugs of unknown strength and purity readily available in our communities. Those selling drugs have no scruples, they have no concern about the damage they are doing to the community or those buying through social media.

Read more: Social media giant Instagram removes drug dealer accounts after Echo sting

"UK drugs policy is a mess and has failed everyone over the last fifty years  - the public, our community and those with addiction. The way we police drugs maximise harm to all, except drug dealers and organised crime gangs that profit from misery and suffering,

"The Government need to consider examples of best practice from around the world to shape and deliver a modern drugs policy focusing on reducing harm, cutting the links between drugs and crime, and supporting problematic drug users with effective avenues of treatment and recovery.

"Our current system is the worst of all worlds. The drugs market is controlled by organised crime gangs, police action is expensive and ineffective, we criminalise those with health and addiction issues placing them on a destructive spiral of prison and reoffending.

"Lock them up and throw away the key makes good headlines, but this tired policy has repeatedly failed, most notably in the US, to stem the tide of the drugs, but has led to mass incarceration at great public expense.

"We remain in a cycle of despair and failure. We continue to waste public resources without any prospect of winning the so-called 'War on Drugs', and as shown by The Northern Echo, drug dealers will use new technology, adapt, and change to evade the already overstretched Police service across the UK.

"Anyone who thinks we can arrest, criminalise and imprison our way out of the drugs problem is lying to the public, is ignoring international evidence, and is facilitating the current system which empowers organised crime gangs to control a drugs market against a Police force ill-equipped to significantly disrupt the trade.

"After fifty years of failure, the drugs situation locally and nationally is worse than ever and the effects can be seen on our streets and in our community. I believe it is time for a new approach."

Grahame Morris is the Labour MP for Easington

Darlington's Conservative MP Peter Gibson urged anyone who comes across similar accounts on Instagram to report it to the police. 

“I would encourage anyone who come across social media accounts conducting any form of illegal activity in the first instance to report the accounts to the respective social media platforms," he said. 

“I am pleased to see that action has been taken in relation to the reported accounts shared by The Northern Echo.

“If members of the public have any intelligence about any type of illegal activity in Darlington then they should contact Durham Constabulary directly via 101 to report such instances, alternately they are able to report concerns online via Durham Constabulary’s Live Chat service.”

Peter Gibson is the Conservative MP for Darlington

Keep up to date with all the latest news on our website, or follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

You can also follow our dedicated County Durham Facebook page for all the latest in the area by clicking here.

For all the top news updates from right across the region straight to your inbox, sign up to our newsletter here.

Have you got a story for us? Contact our newsdesk on newsdesk@nne.co.uk or contact 01325 505054