DORSET has been labelled the 'heroin capital' of England and Wales in a shocking new report.

The news prompted officials at the Police Federation to warn that a "proliferation of illicit drugs on the streets of the UK" is being used to fund serious crime, following the first rise in drug seizures across both countries for seven years.

Dorset Police made 232 seizures of heroin in 2018-19, according to figures released by the Home Office.

At 300 seizures per million residents, it was the highest rate for any police force in England and Wales.

Possession of the class A drug carries a maximum sentence of seven years in prison plus an unlimited fine, while those caught supplying it face life in prison.

It was the second most commonly seized Class A drug across England and Wales – having held the top spot before 2006.

Overall, Dorset Police recorded 2,097 drug seizures during the year, an increase of 5 per cent, and the second consecutive rise.

The figures mean there were 2,715 seizures for every million residents, higher than the rate of 2,432 per million across England and Wales.

The most frequently seized drug was cannabis – with 1,393 seizures – followed by cocaine – with 233.

Simon Kempton, a Dorset Police officer and operational policing lead for the Police Federation, said the figures demonstrate "the importance of all law enforcement agencies in the UK working in a joined up way" to tackle organised crime.

"These figures also reflect the huge amount of drugs which are available, as both prices and purity of drugs available on the street don’t seem to have been affected," he said.

"This is a concern which underlines how there is a proliferation of illicit drugs on the streets of the UK, all of which goes to fund serious organised crime."

A spokesperson from Dorset Police said: "We continue to work proactively to tackle the supply of drugs in our communities and it appears that the increase in seizures is a reflection of the intensification of efforts in this area. 

"We recognise the impact drug dealing and the operations of county lines gangs can have in our area and we are committed to protecting vulnerable people who are being exploited as well as identifying and prosecuting offenders through targeted, intelligence-led work.

"As well as our local efforts, we have taken part in national enforcement action and our results locally have produced positive results during these periods of intensification that reflect well in comparison to other forces. 

"As ever, we are grateful for any information from members of the public that can help build our intelligence picture and identify those involved in the supply of drugs.

"Anyone with information about suspect drug-related activity is asked to contact Dorset Police via, via email or by calling 101."