Online drug dealing on illegal websites is flourishing in Britain, according to a new report.

A study carried out by RAND Europe claims Britain’s internet dealers sell around £1.8 million of drugs a month – 16 per cent of the world’s total trade. In fact, the UK is second only to the United States which accounts for a third of the global online drugs trade.

Each month, 338 British dealers use encrypted websites on the “dark web” to complete a total of 20,000 transactions, the report claims. These involve a range of illegal substances, including cannabis, cocaine, amphetamines and ecstasy.

RAND Europe claims the number of online drug deals have trebled since 2013, although most illegal substances are still bought and sold in a more traditional way.

Dealers sell drugs through cryptomarkets – illegal online marketplaces. The most famous example of one is Silk Road, which was shut down by the FBI in 2013.

However, within a month of Silk Road being taken down, similar websites had sprung up in its place.

More than a third of online drug deals involve cannabis, while 29 per cent of the substances being sold are stimulants like cocaine and amphetamines. Ecstasy-type drugs account for a fifth of the narcotics being bought over the internet.

In contrast, heroin makes up just six per cent of the online drugs trade, despite being responsible for 28 per cent of the total narcotics market in Europe. This suggests that heroin addicts are much more likely to buy directly from dealers in person.

Online dealing is growing market

People buying drugs online often use anonymous currencies like Bitcoin which cannot be traced by the authorities.

Stijn Hoorens, manager of the research project, told i: “The UK is one of the most significant bases for vendors in this market and is certainly the biggest in Europe in terms of numbers of vendors and monthly revenue. It is a growing market.”

There are concerns that online drug dealing may be encouraging more people to buy illegal substances. The research team found that the typical cryptomarket user is a young English-speaking male with very good computer skills.

These type of people may not have got involved in buying or selling drugs if they had to meet dealers face-to-face in a traditional way.

Drug testing can help you find out whether someone you know is using drugs. For quick results, a urine testing kit can tell you whether someone has certain substances in their system while analysis of their hair strands gives more detailed information about their drug history over a period of months.

Drugs tests can be used by employers who suspect a member of staff may be misusing substances. Businesses may also use random testing as a deterrent to try and ensure they maintain a safe, drug-free workplace.

Tests can also be ordered online by members of the public who are concerned someone they know may be misusing drugs.