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Trends in drug-related crime and other offences

A number of reports have been published recently that give an insight into the level of drug related crime and other offences throughout Scotland.

Drug seizure statistics

According to the latest official Drug Seizures Statistics published by Scotland’s Chief Statistician, the number of drug seizures reported by police forces across Scotland has fallen by 3%, from 29,734 seizures in 2011-12 to 28,968 in 2012/13.

Looking at the figures in more detail, they show that:

  • The number of seizures involving class A drugs decreased by 9%, from 5,825 in 2011-12 to 5,313 in 2012-13. The proportion of total drug seizures involving a class A drug decreased by two percentage points to 18% in 2012-13.
  • There was an increase of 8% in the number of seizures involving class B drugs, from 20,618 in 2011-12 to 22,185 in 2012-13. Class B drugs were seized in 77% of all drug seizures in 2012-13, an increase of eight percentage points compared to 2011-12.
  • The number of seizures involving class C drugs decreased by a quarter to 3,544 in 2012-13. The proportion of total drug seizures involving class C drugs decreased by four percentage points to 12%.
  • Among class A drugs, the highest number of seizures in 2012-13 was for heroin (2,329), followed by cocaine (2,140).
  • In 2012-13, 95% of class B seizures involved at least one type of cannabis and the vast majority of class C seizures involved diazepam.

General crime levels

In terms of general crime levels, the 2012-13 Scottish Crime and Justice Survey (SCJS) has revealed a continued drop in the incidence of crime, which has fallen by 22% since 2008/09.

The risk of being a victim of crime fell to 16.9% in 2012/13, compared to 20.4% in 2008/09. Scotland is apparently a safer place to live than England and Wales, where the victimisation rate sat at 18.7% in 2012/13.

In addition, the SCJS revealed that there were 815,000 crimes in 2012/13, as measured by the survey, including:

  • approximately 579,000 property crimes (71% of crime) involving theft or damage to personal or household property (including vehicles);
  • approximately 236,000 violent crimes of assault or robbery (29% of crime).

Perceived risk of crime

Interestingly, the survey also found that for some people, the perceived risk of being a victim of crime is higher than the actual risk. In most cases the perceived risk is two or three times higher than actual risk, but for certain crimes it was much higher.

House breaking is one example of a crime that people appear to have unrealistic fears about. According to the survey, six times as many adults thought that they were likely to have their home broken into than actually did have their home broken into (7% compared with the actual risk of housebreaking of 1.2%).

For crimes such as mugging or car theft the perceived risk was 20 times higher than the actual risk that people faced.

Opinions on Scotland’s criminal justice system

The SCJS also sought the views of the public on the operation of the criminal justice system in Scotland, and found that 66% believed that the system allows victims of crime to seek justice, and that 77% were confident that it allows those accused to receive a fair trial.

With regards to sentencing provisions, 66% agreed that community sentencing is an effective way of dealing with less serious crime, and 68% agreed that prisons are effective at protecting the public from crime. However, only 43% were confident that the justice system deals with cases promptly and efficiently, and just 32% believed that the punishments given fit the crime.

Contact our Lawyers

If you have been charged with a drugs offence and require specialist criminal defence advice, our solicitors can help you. Complete our online enquiry form here or come in to see us at one of our offices.