THE true scale of crack cocaine use in Oxford has been revealed as a national report warns of an increase in addicts buying the drug at ‘pocket money prices’.

According to the latest estimate there are more than 2,130 adults using crack in Oxford, equating to nearly five in every 1,000 residents – one of the highest rates across the south east.

Coupled with a drop in prices, local experts have said a rise in purity is making the problem worse as 'county lines' dealers continue to flood the city with the highly addictive drug, despite the best efforts of police.

While figures for those using crack alone have fallen slightly in Oxford, the number of those estimated to now be using heroin with crack in the city has increased, with the Public Health England (PHE) report revealing how dealers are pushing crack onto heroin users by offering special deals in order to hook addicts in.

Read again: County lines dealer jailed for crack and heroin drugs plot

Senior operations manager at addiction support service Turning Point Oxfordshire Andy Symons agreed it was a ‘massive’ problem and one that had been around for some time.

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He said: “We are dealing with a significant number of service users using crack and heroin together – that is a massive issue, but it’s always been there to some extent.

“Taking both together, the whole thing can lead to a sort of snowball effect and it can be quite problematic for them.”

He added: “You can spend an awful lot of money on crack cocaine, and we are seeing crack reducing in price in Oxford, though not substantially.

“The other thing is, we are seeing an increase in purity – some of the police reports you see and the seizures they’ve made, it is becoming a lot more pure which means users are getting the same amount of drug for less money.

“We certainly haven’t heard of dealers giving it away for nothing in Oxford, but we have heard of people getting ‘two for one’ where you get two wraps of heroin and a wrap of crack.”

Read again: Oxford drug dealers get £300,000 bill to go with jail time

Crack cocaine is the base form of cocaine which is heated with a lighter or torch until it forms 'rocks'.

The name comes from the crackling or popping sound it makes when smoked.

According to the PHE report, users in some areas of the country are able to buy the drug for just £5 per rock, while dealers now offer a deliver the drug ‘quicker than a pizza’.

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The report revealed a 19 per cent rise in the number of adults starting treatment for crack cocaine addiction (with and without heroin) between 2015 and 2018.

Meanwhile national addiction charity UKAT has said it could soon be treating more people this year for crack addiction than heroin and alcohol combined.

Efforts by Thames Valley Police and its new drug task force with Oxford City Council to clamp down on dealing have not been in vain, according to Mr Symons, with Turning Point service users admitting the drug was becoming harder to come by.

Read also: Oxford drugs taskforce aims to kick drugs out of city

According to the latest police figures Thames Valley saw a 61.6 per cent rise in drug trafficking from 112 in 2017 to 181 last year, while reports of possession of drugs rose by 17.9 per cent rise from 374 to 441.

This week the drugs taskforce said it would be turning its attention to East Oxford after successfully cleaning up what were seen as the worst affected areas around South Park and St Clements.

However, Mr Symons did say police activity alone would never be the solution to the issue.

He explained: "For us there’s always been a great partnership with the police.

"We are a bit different in Oxford, we work closely with the police and we sometimes have them bring people along to us because obviously some of the end users are quite vulnerable."

Speaking about the drugs task force he added: "They are able to react quite quickly and they have been quite effective in reducing dealing operations in particular areas – but it’s a battle you are never going to win.

"Last year we had 72 people come off prescription altogether, so they were completely drug-free, but there are a significant number who are still using, and they are the ones we need to try to reach."

Turning Point in Oxford is based in Rectory Road, East Oxford.

For more information on its services or for help and advice on addiction visit