Drug seizures and offender characteristics: 2016-2017

Statistical bulletin on drug seizures recorded by Police Scotland in 2016-2017.

Drug Seizures And Offender Characteristics, 2016-17

This bulletin presents Official Statistics on drug seizures made by the police in Scotland and the characteristics of those found in possession of drugs. These statistics relate to drugs controlled under the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971, which divides drugs into three classes, namely A, B and C. For the purpose of this bulletin, the drug classifications at the end of the reporting period, 31 March 2017, have been applied to the data.

Key Points

  • 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 2016-17 were heroin (54.1 kilograms), cocaine (120.3 kilograms) and crack cocaine (5.2 kilograms). Police Scotland also seized approximately 8,600 ecstasy-type tablets.
  • Again for crimes of drug supply, the main Class B drugs seized by Police Scotland in 2016-17 were herbal cannabis (347.9 kilograms) and cannabis resin (322.1 kilograms). They also seized over 18,000 cannabis plants. For Class C drugs, the main drug seized was diazepam or other benzodiazepines (approximately 2.2 million tablets).
  • A sample of drug possession crime for 2016-17 estimated that 60% of drug possession crimes involved herbal cannabis or cannabis resin, with 10% each for cocaine and diazepam.
  • Over 2014-15 to 2016-17, the vast majority of drug possession offenders were male (86%). The median age of an offender was 29 years old, with almost two thirds (65%) being between 20 and 39 years old.

Drug possession crime in Scotland, 2014-15 to 2016-17

The graphic below outlines some characteristics of drug possession crimes from 2014-15 to 2016-17:

86% of offenders were male. The median age of offender was 29 years old.
42% of drugs seized were herbal cannabis, 18% were cannabis resin, 10% were diazepam, 10% were cocaine and 8% were heroin.
49% of drugs were seized in the street, whilst 28% were seized in a house or garden.

Other features of the police records were as follows:

40% of records have more than one crime recorded;
23% of records mentioned that someone was under the influence of drugs or alcohol; and
5% of records mention NHS involvement.

Drug possession crime in Scotland, 2014-15 to 2016-17


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