Publication - Statistics

Drug seizures and offender characteristics: 2017-2018

Published: 19 Mar 2019
Directorate:
Justice Directorate
Part of:
Law and order, Statistics
ISBN:
9781787816688

Statistical bulletin on drug seizures recorded by Police Scotland in 2017-2018.

19 page PDF

814.0 kB

19 page PDF

814.0 kB

Supporting files

Contents
Drug seizures and offender characteristics: 2017-2018
Number of seizures and quantities of drugs seized

19 page PDF

814.0 kB

Supporting files

Number of seizures and quantities of drugs seized

  • 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 supply-related crimes).

Drug supply crimes

  • Intelligence-led operations against known drug dealers tend to result in a low number of seizures, but conversely the quantity of drugs seized and their value will be high. These high profile operations may result in greater disruption to the illicit drugs trade which, whilst having a positive effect, may reduce the number of seizures made. As such, care should be taken when comparing quantities of drugs seized over time.
  • A significant proportion of drugs seized in terms of quantity come from seizures related to supply crimes, despite making up a relatively small proportion of the overall number of seizures.
  • This section covers drugs seized where the crime was one of drug supply, drug production or illegal importation of drugs.

Class A drugs seized from drug supply crimes

  • Table 1b shows that in 2017-18, Police Scotland reported that they seized 118.6 kilograms (kg) of heroin, 74.4 kg of cocaine and 6.7 kg of crack cocaine from drug supply crimes. This is compared to 54.1 kilograms (kg) of heroin, 120.3 kg of cocaine and 5.2 kg of crack cocaine in 2016-17.
  • Approximately 25,400 ecstasy-type tablets were seized in 2017-18, compared to 8,600 in 2016-17.
  • 1.1 litres of methadone was seized by Police Scotland in 2017-18, the same quantity as in 2016-17.
  • Compared to other types of Class A Drugs, relatively small amounts of LSD and morphine were seized in 2017-18.
  • In addition to the information in Table 1a, there were 31 supply-based seizures of 'Other' Class A drugs in 2017-18, including 3 seizures of methylamphetamine.

Table 1a: Number of seizures from supply crimes, by financial year - Class A drugs1

Drug 2014-15 2015-16 2016-17 2017-18
Cocaine Powder 366 506 488 543
Crack Cocaine 3 25 85 70
Ecstasy-type Substances 89 148 150 143
Heroin 553 737 815 826
LSD 3 6 9 3
Methadone 34 11 12 9
Morphine 3 18 3 6

Table 1b: Quantity seized from supply crimes, by financial year- Class A drugs

Drug Units 2014-15 2015-16 2016-17 2017-18
Cocaine Powder kg 75.7 82.7 120.3 74.4
Crack Cocaine kg 0.0 4.2 5.2 6.7
Ecstasy-type Substances tablets (000s) 15.1 13.4 8.6 25.4
Heroin kg 106.1 74.0 54.1 118.6
LSD tablets/other units (000s) 0.1 0.0 0.1 0.1
Methadone litres 8.1 4.3 1.1 1.1
Morphine litres 0.1 0.0 0.6 0.0

1. Data for 2014-15 is based on an estimated 85% of all drug supply-related crimes, data for 2015-16 is based on an estimated 92% of all drug supply-related crimes. Data for 2016-17 onwards is based on 100% of drug supply-related crimes.

Class B drugs seized from drug supply crimes

  • Table 2b shows the quantities of Class B drugs seized in 2017-18.
  • The quantity of cannabis-related drug seizures from drug supply crimes in 2017-18 included 553.4 kg of herbal cannabis, 625.0 kg of cannabis resin and 16,346 cannabis plants. This is compared to 347.9 kg of herbal cannabis, 322.1 kg of cannabis resin and 18,310 cannabis plants in 2016-17.
  • There were 68.3 kg of amphetamines seized in 2017-18, compared to 109.9 kg seized in 2016-17. There was 0.1 kg of ketamine seized in 2017-18, compared to 10.0 kg in 2016-17. There were no mephedrone seizures from drug supply crimes in 2017-18, compared to 14.6 kg in 2016-17.
  • In addition to the information in Table 2a, there were 23 supply-based seizures of 'Other' Class B drugs in 2017-18.

Table 2a: Number of seizures from supply crimes, by financial year - Class B drugs1

Drug 2014-15 2015-16 2016-17 2017-18
Herbal Cannabis 731 905 849 918
Cannabis Resin 268 400 329 334
Cannabis plants 594 655 683 648
Amphetamines 124 135 151 102
Barbiturates - - - -
Ketamine 2 2 7 7
Mephedrone 2 11 22 -

Table 2b: Quantity seized from supply crimes, by financial year - Class B drugs1

Drug Units 2014-15 2015-16 2016-17 2017-18
Herbal Cannabis kg 165.4 413.9 347.9 553.4
Cannabis Resin kg 153.4 570.4 322.1 625.0
Cannabis plants plants 13,022 31,398 18,310 16,346
Amphetamines kg 118.4 71.8 109.9 68.3
Barbiturates tablets (000s) - - - -
Ketamine kg 0.0 0.0 10.0 0.1
Mephedrone kg 0.0 0.9 14.6 -

1. Data for 2014-15 is based on an estimated 85% of all drug supply-related crimes, data for 2015-16 is based on an estimated 92% of all drug supply-related crimes. Data for 2016-17 onwards is based on 100% of drug supply-related crimes.

  • Table 3b shows the quantities of Class C drugs seized from drug supply crimes.
  • Most Class C seizures were of diazepam and other benzodiazepines (excluding etizolam), with almost 321,000 tablets seized in 2017-18. This is compared to almost 2.2 million tablets seized in 2016-17. Whilst it is not possible to present figures for diazepam and other benzodiazepines (excluding etizolam) seperately, the vast majority of tablets seized are likely to have been diazepam.
  • Almost 264,000 tablets of etizolam were seized in 2017-18. Etizolam is a 'designer' benzodiazepine, which was classified as a Class C drug under a 2017 amendment to the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971[2].
  • Approximately 400 tablets of anabolic steroids were seized in 2017-18, compared to 12,100 in 2016-17. Approximately 100 tablets of temazepam were seized in 2017-18, compared to approximately 34,200 in 2016-17.
  • In addition to the information in Table 3a, there were 42 supply-based seizures of 'Other' Class C drugs in 2017-18.

Table 3a: Number of seizures from supply crimes, by financial year - Class C drugs1

Drug 2014-15 2015-16 2016-17 2017-18
Anabolic Steroids 3 5 52 3
GHB 0 2 - -
Temazepam 2 4 2 1
Diazepam and other Benzodiazepines (excluding etizolam)2 419 382 316 278
Etizolam3 n/a n/a n/a 44

Table 3b: Quantity seized from supply crimes, by financial year - Class C drugs1

Drug Units 2014-15 2015-16 2016-17 2017-18
Anabolic Steroids tablets (000s) 0.3 0.3 12.1 0.4
GHB litres 0.0 0.0 - -
Temazepam tablets (000s) 0.0 1.3 34.2 0.1
Diazepam and other Benzodiazepines (excluding etizolam)2 tablets (000s) 1,182.7 1,276.1 2,165.4 320.8
Etizolam3 tablets (000s) n/a n/a n/a 263.9

1. Data for 2014-15 is based on an estimated 85% of all drug supply-related crimes, data for 2015-16 is based on an estimated 92% of all drug supply-related crimes. Data for 2016-17 onwards is based on 100% of drug supply-related crimes.
2. The vast majority of the tablets seized in this category are likely to have been diazepam.
3. From 2017-18 onwards, separate figures are presented for etizolam, a 'designer' benzodiazepine, which was classified as a Class C drug under a 2017 amendment to the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971.

Drug possession crimes

  • The majority of seizures of controlled drugs are from drug possession crimes (in terms of numbers of seizures), however by their nature these incidents involve a relatively small quantity of drugs being seized. As a result, drug possession crimes account for only a small proportion of all drugs seized in terms of quantity, despite accounting for the vast majority of seizures.
  • The data presented below for drug possession crimes is based on a sample of 400 records per year. As this analysis is drawn from a sample of records, users should treat the following information as a broad indication of the characteristics of drug possession rather than as an exact measure. All figures are presented at a national level as the sample size is too small to provide robust estimates for geographies below this.

Number of drug possession crimes by drug classification

  • Recorded crime statistics show that in total, there were 27,171 drug possession crimes recorded by the police in 2017-18, compared to 31,632 drug possession crimes in 2014-15, 29,929 in 2015-16, and 27,766 in 2016-17. Further information can be found in Recorded Crime in Scotland, 2017-18.
  • Table 4a shows the distribution of the classification of drugs seized in the sample for 2014-15 to 2017-18. Table 4b shows the resulting estimate of the total number of possession crimes involving each class of drug.
  • In 2017-18, 57.5% of all drug possession crimes were estimated to involve Class B drugs. A further 21.8% of all drug possession crimes were estimated to involve Class A drugs, whilst 16.5% involved a Class C drug.
  • Between 2014-15 and 2017-18, the proportion of drug possession crimes that were estimated to involve a Class B drug fell from 68.0% to 57.5%. None of the changes for Class A or Class C possession crimes (between 2014-15 and 2017-18) were found to be statistically significant.

Table 4a: Percentage of drug possession records in the sample by drug classification, 2014-15 to 2017-18

Drug Class 2014-15 2015-16 2016-17 2017-18
Class A 15.8% 17.5% 22.5% 21.8%
Class B 68.0% 67.5% 62.5% 57.5%
Class C 15.8% 14.5% 14.0% 16.5%
Unclassified1 0.5% 0.5% 1.0% 4.3%
Total 100% 100% 100% 100%

Table 4b: Estimated number of drug possession crimes by drug classification, 2014-15 to 2017-182

Drug Class 2014-15 2015-16 2016-17 2017-18
Class A 5,000 5,200 6,200 5,900
Class B 21,500 20,200 17,400 15,600
Class C 5,000 4,300 3,900 4,500
Unclassified1 200 100 300 1,200
Total 31,632 29,929 27,766 27,171

1. In a small number of cases the drug type could not be classified due to lack of information or no controlled drugs were seized.
2. As these figures are estimates they have been rounded to the nearest 100

Quantity of drugs seized from drug possession crimes

  • In 2017-18, cocaine, heroin, herbal cannabis, cannabis resin, diazepam, and etizolam accounted for 83.3% of all drug possession seizures.
  • Herbal cannabis is the most commonly seized drug by a considerable margin, with cannabis resin the second most commonly seized drug. In 2017-18, 53.5% of all possession-related seizures involved these two drug types.
  • Table 5c provides estimates of the quantity of drugs seized from 2014-15 to 2017-18 for particular drug types. Estimates of the quantity seized from drug possession crimes have only been calculated where there were at least 15 observations of that drug being seized in the sample.
  • The quantity has been estimated by multiplying the average quantity seized in the sample by the estimated number of drug possession seizures involving that drug.

Table 5a: Percentage of drug possession records in the sample by drug type, 2014-15 to 2017-18

Drug 2014-15 2015-16 2016-17 2017-18
Cocaine 7.8% 8.3% 10.3% 10.0%
Heroin 4.8% 6.0% 7.5% 8.8%
Herbal Cannabis 43.0% 46.8% 41.8% 39.5%
Cannabis Resin 21.0% 16.8% 18.3% 14.0%
Diazepam 14.5% 12.3% 9.8% 5.5%
Etizolam1 n/a n/a n/a 5.5%

Table 5b: Estimated number of drug possession crimes by drug type, 2014-15 to 2017-182

Drug 2014-15 2015-16 2016-17 2017-18
Cocaine 2,500 2,500 2,900 2,700
Heroin 1,500 1,800 2,100 2,400
Herbal Cannabis 13,600 14,000 11,600 10,700
Cannabis Resin 6,600 5,000 5,100 3,800
Diazepam 4,600 3,700 2,700 1,500
Etizolam1 n/a n/a n/a 1,500

Table 5c: Estimated quantity seized from drug possession crimes by drug type, 2014-15 to 2017-18

Drug Units 2014-15 2015-16 2016-17 2017-18
Cocaine kg 4.1 6.1 5.2 4.7
Heroin kg 0.8 2.1 2.1 3.8
Herbal Cannabis kg 36.2 36.8 39.6 61.2
Cannabis Resin kg 14.8 17.6 32.6 28.1
Diazepam tablets (000s) 151.3 63.2 71.8 33.2
Etizolam1 tablets (000s) n/a n/a n/a 61.7

1. From 2017-18 onwards, separate figures are presented for etizolam, a 'designer' benzodiazepine, which was classified as a Class C drug under a 2017 amendment to the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971.
2. As these figures are estimates they have been rounded to the nearest 100

Overall quantity of drugs seized

  • Table 6 shows the total quantity of drugs seized for the drug types where an estimate of the quantity seized from possession crimes has been made. The figures shown in the table are the sum of the quantities seized from supply-related crimes and the estimated quantity seized from possession crimes.
  • For those drug types not shown in Table 6, there were fewer than 15 observations in the sample of possession crimes for each year, and therefore the total quantity seized from possession crimes is likely to be very small. Due to this the quantity seized from supply-related crimes shown in Tables 1b, 2b and 3b should provide a reasonable estimate of the total quantity seized.
  • For all of these drug types the quantity of drugs seized from possession crimes is relatively small when compared to the quantity seized from supply crimes.
  • In 2017-18, 79.1 kg of cocaine was seized in total compared to 125.5 kg in 2016-17. There were also 122.4 kg of heroin seized in 2017-18, compared to 56.2 kg in the previous year.
  • In total, 614.6 kg of herbal cannabis was seized in 2017-18 compared to 387.4 kg in 2016-17. The quantity of cannabis resin seized in 2017-18 was 653.1 kg compared to 354.7 kg in 2016-17.
  • Approximately 354,000 diazepam tablets were seized in 2017-18, compared to 2.2 million in 2016-17. Approximately 326,000 etizolam tablets were seized in 2017-18. As noted above, etizolam is a 'designer' benzodiazepine, which was classified as a Class C drug under a 2017 amendment to the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971[3].

Table 6: Total estimated quantity of drugs seized by drug type, 2014-15 to 2017-181

Drug Units Drug Class 2014-15 2015-16 2016-17 2017-18
Cocaine kg A 79.8 88.8 125.5 79.1
Heroin kg A 106.9 76.1 56.2 122.4
Herbal Cannabis kg B 201.6 450.7 387.4 614.6
Cannabis Resin kg B 168.2 588.0 354.7 653.1
Diazepam2 tablets (000s) C 1,334.0 1,339.3 2,237.3 354.0
Etizolam3 tablets (000s) C n/a n/a n/a 325.5

1. Data for 2014-15 is based on an estimated 85% of all drug supply-related crimes, data for 2015-16 is based on an estimated 92% of all drug supply-related crimes. Data for 2016-17 onwards is based on 100% of drug supply-related crimes.
2. For the element of this which applies to supply based crimes a small proportion of these will be other benzodiazepines (excluding etizolam).
3. From 2017-18 onwards, separate figures are presented for etizolam, a 'designer' benzodiazepine, which was classified as a Class C drug under a 2017 amendment to the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971.


Contact

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