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AMSTERDAM FACTS AND FIGURES 13 Drugs The Amsterdam policy on drugs is a purely pragmatic one The capital has a population of more than 700000 including approximately 6200 hard drug users The policy is mainly focused on discouraging the use of hard drugs and combating the drug trade In addition every effort is made to restrict the risks run by addicts themselves and the drug-related problems they confront the rest of society with In the Amsterdam policy on drugs a distinction is drawn between hard drugs and soft drugs About 1500 of the 6200 hard drug users are from Surinam the Netherlands Antilles and Morocco and about 2000 are from other countries in Europe mainly Germany Italy and England The number of drug addicts is now on the decrease The average age of the addicts has risen in recent years from 268 in 1981 to 323 in 1990 In the same period the percentage of drug addicts under the age of 22 fell from 144 to 25 Policy of Discouragement With respect to the use of drugs Amsterdam adheres to a policy of discouragement Active efforts are made to combat the drug trade The Narcotics Brigade of the Amsterdam Police has doubled its staff in the past few years This discouragement also takes place by way of an intensive information campaign on the effects and risks of drug use The policy of discouragement means that the police take an extremely intensive line of action in dealing with drug addicts who commit crimes In recent years there has been a sharp rise in the number of policemen assigned to combat drug-related crime The attitude of the Amsterdam authorities to drug addicts from abroad has been part of the discouragement policy Foreigners do not have access to the assistance programmes Amsterdam has set up for its own drug addicts Hard Drugs and Soft Drugs The Dutch policy on drugs differs
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