By Jamie Grierson / The Guardian

Experts concerned heroin users will turn to more dangerous fentanyl

Drug treatment experts have raised concerns a drop in the supply of illicit drugs to the UK triggered by the lockdown is leading to an increase in the number of users turning to more dangerous alternatives.

A reduction in global travel, increased border restrictions and a slowdown in movement within the UK has resulted in a drop in the supply of illicit drugs, including heroin and the designer drug spice.

The Guardian understands that border guards have noted a recent drop in seizures as traffic into the country subsides, while senior police sources have noted the dip in supply.

But experts have warned that fewer drugs on the streets is not as positive as it sounds, as users are already turning to high-strength alternatives such benzodiazepines, while there is a significant risk of heroin users substituting with fentanyl, a lethal drug 50 to 100 times stronger than heroin.

The number of drug-related deaths is at a record high, according to the most recent official estimates, driven by deaths linked to drug misuse.

The reduced supply is also leading to an increase in the price of some substances, including cannabis, and decreasing the purity of others as dealers cut them with different chemicals to increase bulk, experts have told the Guardian.