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Drug-Related Crime in Scotland

The Scottish Government has recently published a statistical bulletin giving a breakdown of drug seizures made by the police, and the characteristics of those found in possession of drugs in 2014-15 and 2015-16. The publication also includes an analysis of the characteristics of drug possession crimes for the first time.

The statistics relate to drugs controlled under the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971, which divides drugs into three classes, namely A, B and C. It doesn’t include information on drugs seized by the UK Border Force or British Transport Police, or as a result of Police Scotland activity which led to drugs being seized outwith Scotland.

Key Statistics

According to the Drug Seizures and Offender Characteristics, 2014-15 and 2015-16 bulletin:

  • The quantity of drugs seized can fluctuate considerably each year and does not necessarily move in line with the number of seizures made. Whilst most drug seizures consist of relatively small quantities (usually possession-related crimes), annual quantities of drugs seized can be greatly influenced by a small number of large seizures (usually from supply-related crimes).
  • For crimes of drug supply, the main Class A drugs seized by Police Scotland in 2015-16 were heroin (74.0 kilograms), cocaine (82.7 kilograms) and crack cocaine (4.2 kilograms). In addition they also seized 13,000 ecstasy-type tablets.
  • Again for crimes of drug supply the main Class B drugs seized by Police Scotland were herbal cannabis (413.9 kilograms) and cannabis resin (570.4 kilograms). In addition they also seized 31,400 cannabis plants. For Class C the main drug seized by Police Scotland was diazepam or other benzodiazepines (1.3 million tablets).
  • A sample of drug possession crime across 2014-15 and 2015-16 found that nearly two thirds of drug possession crimes involved cannabis, with diazepam being the next most common type of drug seized.
  • The vast majority of drug possession offenders were male. The average age of an offender was 30 years old, with the majority (65%) being between 20 and 39 years old. Around 16% of offenders were under 20 years old and 19% were 40 years old or older.
  • 48% of drug possession crimes were discovered in the street, while 27% were discovered in a home or garden.
  • The vast majority of drug possession crimes were committed by one offender, with only 3% of crimes having multiple offenders (these situations can occur where offenders collectively admit to ownership of the seized drugs, or if no one admits to ownership).

Detection of Crime

The statistics also give an indication of how Police Scotland became aware of the drug related crime:

  • During 2014-15 and 2015-16, over half (53%) of drug possessions in the sample were detected by police while on patrol. The majority of these were cases where the police on patrol had a suspicion or observed that the offender was in possession of drugs, with this category accounting for 39% of all records reviewed. A further 14% of records involved police on patrol dealing with another crime, offence or incident and finding drugs while doing this.
  • Nearly a quarter (24%) of drug possessions were found as a result of police responding to a report of a crime, offence or another reported incident. A further 22% of drug possession seizures were made by police during investigations into an earlier crime, offence or incident.

Contact Us

If you have been charged with a drug-related offence then contact our specialist criminal defence lawyers today.

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