There were fewer drug seizures by police in Hampshire last year, new figures show.

Release, the national centre for drugs expertise, said the Government's figures on drug seizures show the "futility of their efforts" as drug harm and death remains high.

The Home Office figures show there were 5,770 total drug seizures by Hampshire Constabulary in the year to March 2022 down from 6,393 in 2021.

A significant amount of the drugs seized in the area last year were cannabis plants (12,509kg) and herbal cannabis (679kg).

Immigration Minister Robert Jenrick said the Government will continue to back police and Border Force to use every available power to stop drugs from entering the country.

He added the figures show how effective the Government's approach has been as they "continue to go after the criminals who blight so many communities and destroy lives with these harmful substances".

Nationally, 189,000 drug seizures were carried out last year. It was a fall of 14% from 220,000 seizures in 2021.

The figures also show a significant increase in the amount of cocaine seized by police and Border Force last year from over 11,000kg in 2021 to nearly 19,000kg last year.

In addition, the amount of ketamine confiscated rose nearly ten-fold from 187kg to 1,837kg respectively.

The Home Office said this stark increase was the product of more high-quantity seizures.

Niamh Eastwood, Release's executive director, said the Home Office's annual figures on drug seizures shows how futile their efforts are in stopping the illegal drug market.

"The market continues unabated, and harms continue to be at an all-time high, especially in relation to the tragedy of drug-related deaths," Ms Eastwood said.

She added: "It is unsurprising to see cocaine at the top of the Class A seizure tables given its popularity, but despite tens of thousands of kilos of cocaine being taken off the streets there will be little impact on the availability of the drug.

"We need to start to look at what other countries are doing, ending criminal sanctions for possession offences, and exploring regulated markets and reducing the harms that people are experiencing."

In Hampshire, 26.1kg of cocaine and 0.1kg of ketamine were confiscated last year.

Regionally, police forces in the South East confiscated 9% of the drugs seized across England and Wales.

Forces in London (22%) and in the East of England (12%) seized the highest amount. After them, Border Forces seized 11% of drugs confiscated nationally.

Steve Dann, Border Force chief operating officer said: "These seizures send a clear message to anyone prepared to smuggle illegal drugs into the country that we remain committed to tackle often violent and exploitative drug supply chains.

"Border Force Officers involved in these seizures can be proud of their work in stopping these dangerous drugs from entering our communities."