Drug seizures and offender characteristics: 2014-2015 and 2015-2016

Statistical bulletin on drug seizures recorded by Police Scotland in 2014 to 2015 and 2015 to 2016.

This document is part of a collection


This bulletin presents Official Statistics on the number and type of drug seizures made by Police Scotland during 2014-15 and 2015-16. It does not 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 out-with Scotland.

This is the first bulletin to reflect a change to the data collection process for these statistics. For previous bulletins the data was manually extracted by Police Scotland from each crime record that included a drug crime. This was a time consuming process given the relatively large number of records covered each year. As such a new data collection process was put in place to increase the value of this bulletin to users, whilst making more effective use of resources.

The new data collection process takes a two part approach, looking at drug supply and drug possession crimes separately. Police Scotland continue to manually check drug supply-based crimes each year, with these records accounting for the clear majority of drugs seized in terms of quantity. This is supplemented by a sample led by Scottish Government statisticians of the remaining and far more numerous crimes of drug possession. The sample consists of a random selection of 400 crime records per year, stratified by police division so to reflect the distribution of drug possession crimes across Scotland. The information from the sample is then used to estimate the number of seizures and quantities seized in relation to possession crimes for the most commonly identified drug types for Scotland as a whole. This is done by multiplying the average quantity seized per crime by the estimated total number of seizures for that drug type.

For the drug types where quantities seized from possession-related crimes can be estimated, a figure for total amount seized has been produced by adding the quantity seized from supply crimes to the estimated quantity seized from possession crimes. For those drug types where the possession amount cannot be reliably estimated, only the quantity seized from supply crimes is available. However, as these drug types only appear in very small numbers within the sample, it can be assumed that the quantity seized from possession crimes is relatively low.

As well as using the sample to record information on the drugs seized from crimes of possession, information about the offender and the circumstances of the crime have also been recorded so that additional analysis on offender characteristics can be presented. This is new information that was not available with the previous data collection.

The change to the data collection process means that the figures presented in this bulletin are not directly comparable with the figures produced for previous years. However care must always be taken when making comparisons on this topic as there can be very large fluctuations in the quantity of drugs seized from one year to the next. Data on the quantities of drugs seized from 2010-11 to 2013-14 can be found in the 2013-14 publication.

There are two statutory requirements for the UK to provide data on drug seizures, which are managed by the UK Focal Point on Drugs, based at Public Health England. The UK Focal Point on Drugs collate drug seizures statistics from England and Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland for the UK Focal Point's annual report. This is then submitted to the European Monitoring Centre on Drugs and Drug Addiction ( EMCDDA) and the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime ( UNODC). These data inform the EMCDDA's annual report and the UNODC's annual World Drugs Report.

The minimum data requirements to satisfy these two obligations are to submit data on the number of drug seizures and the quantity of drugs seized for each of the following types of drugs: cocaine, crack, ecstasy-type substances, heroin, LSD, methylamphetamine, amphetamines, herbal cannabis, cannabis resin and cannabis plants. In addition to these ten drugs, this bulletin contains seizures data on methadone, morphine, barbiturates, ketamine, mephedrone, anabolic steroids, diazepam, GHB, temazepam and other benzodiazepines.

The statistics on drug seizures are used to inform National Outcome 9 - 'we live our lives safe from crime, disorder and danger' as well as The Strategy for Justice in Scotland. These statistics are also used by a wide range of stakeholders to monitor trends, for policy research and development, and for research purposes.

The 'Drug Seizures and Offender Characteristics' annual statistical bulletin series forms part of a series of bulletins produced by the Scottish Government on the criminal justice system which can be found at: http://www.gov.scot/Topics/Statistics/Browse/Crime-Justice/Publications.


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