Middle class cocaine users who take the drug at dinner parties should feel responsible for rising levels of teen violence and murders in inner cities, the Justice Secretary has said.
David Gauke said the drugs trade was “strongly linked” to violent crime as he took aim at people who take the Class A drug in the safety of their own homes at suburban get togethers.
He said such people were fuelling violence and damaging “the fabric of our society” by buying illegal drugs and that they should feel guilty when they read reports of teenagers being stabbed on London streets.
Mr Gauke’s intervention comes after Simon Kempton, the deputy treasurer of the Police Federation, blamed the wealthy for creating the demand for cocaine while, Ben Wallace, the Security Minister, warned the UK was "fast becoming the biggest consumer" of the drug in Europe.
Mr Gauke agreed it was not just street gangs who needed to be targeted in the crackdown on drugs but middle class users at dinner parties as well.
He said: “I think that the issue that people who do that have to recognise is that they are fuelling the industry that is resulting in the knife crimes, that is resulting in the difficulties we have in prisons.
“The violent crime that we see, inside and outside prison, is strongly linked to the drugs trade.”
The UK is currently suffering a knife crime epidemic.
Recently released statistics showed knife crime soared by almost a quarter last year amid warnings that the reduction in stop and search was fuelling violence on the streets.
The police recorded just under 40,000 offences involving a knife in the year ending December 2017 - which was up 22 per cent on the previous year.
A spate of knife murders - especially across the capital - in recent months, has led to calls for a re-think on the approach to the controversial stop and search powers given to the police.
Mr Gauke said many middle class people who buy cocaine do not realise there is a link between the drugs trade and violence.
He said: “Absolutely. I think there is, along with everything else about drugs in that context, there is also a point of the damage that that is doing to the fabric of our society by funding a drugs trade that is doing enormous damage.
“There is a responsibility for middle class people who take cocaine at a dinner party that when they see a story of a 15-year-old being stabbed in Hackney, well, they should feel a degree of guilt and responsibility.”
It comes after Anne Longfield, the Children’s Commissioner, warned earlier this month that middle class children were being used to traffic drugs by unscrupulous gangs spreading their networks into "most towns of substantial size".
The gangs were using children as young as 12 to traffic drugs using dedicated mobile phones in a strategy known as "county lines", she said.
Mr Gauke has previously said that drug smuggling is so prevalent in the nation’s prisons that criminals can order “Deliveroo-style” deliveries of illegal substances direct to their cells.
He said on Sunday that criminals were developing increasingly sophisticated methods of getting drugs into prison - a problem which the Justice Secretary said had worsened with the advent of psychoactive substances like Spice.
“To give you an example of how it might get smuggled in, what you get is something which is purportedly a solicitor’s letter, so it benefits from legal privilege and so on, it’s actually not, it is soaked in Spice and then it comes in and it is smoked,” he said.
Mr Gauke said the Government was taking action to thwart drug smuggling by training more sniffer dogs, installing airport-style scanners at the worst prisons and making it easier to download information from seized mobile phones.