Drug seizures and Offender Characteristics, 2018-2019 and 2019-20

An overview of the number of drugs possession and supply crimes and the quantities seized during 2018-19 and 2019-20. There are also details of the types of offenders, location, and how the crime was discovered for possession based crimes.


Data Quality Statement

To produce this annual release on drug seizures, the Scottish Government requests data on drug supply-related crimes from Police Scotland's Analysis and Performance Unit (APU). APU, in turn, requests this information from divisions across Police Scotland which still maintain aspects of their own Crime Management Systems defined by the previous legacy force areas.

It was not possible to obtain data for every drug supply crime in the latest two years presented in this bulletin. Two divisions were unable to provide a return for 2018-19 and one division was unable to provide a return for 2019-20. As such, the figures provided for drug supply crimes relate to an estimated 89% of drug supply-related crimes in 2018-19 and 94% in 2019-20. It should be noted that as with any data collection that requires the manual review of a significant volume of administrative records, there is always a risk that a degree of human error may occur in the transferring of this information to an analysable form. To ensure the data is as accurate as possible, we have combined the figures for etizolam within the benzodiazepines category (for crimes of drug supply), rather than present them separately.

The current collection process for drug seizures data remains a transitional one. We will re-visit this in future years, in line with Police Scotland's plan to roll out a new national IT system for recording crime, which may offer opportunities to further improve the data collection process for these statistics.

Data from drug possession crimes is collected via a random sample of 400 drug possession crime records per year. This sample is stratified by police division so that the sample's geographic distribution reflects the distribution of drug possession crimes across Scotland. These records are reviewed by Scottish Government statisticians.

As part of the sampling process, the quality of the recording of drug possession crimes was checked and found to be very good, with nearly 100% of records classified correctly across 2018-19 and 2019-20.

We always welcome feedback on the content of our statistical bulletins and users are welcome to submit their comments to: JusticeAnalysts@gov.scot.

Police Scotland Management Information

In addition to the Official Statistics on drug seizures, Police Scotland publish management information on drug crimes recorded by the police (including the number of recorded crimes of drug supply & production, possession of drugs and other drug crimes). This is presented within their Quarterly Management Information Reports, which are available from the 'Our Performance' section of Police Scotland's website: http://www.scotland.police.uk/about-us/our-performance/

These reports are produced to demonstrate Police Scotland's commitment to transparency (alongside other regular reporting activity to the Scottish Police Authority). The information within these reports is presented on a cumulative quarterly basis, with the first quarter of a reporting year containing 3 months of data (from April to June), the second containing 6 months of data (from April to September) etc. The reports are typically published within 2 months of the period to which they refer.

Other notes

In addition to drugs controlled under the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971, the Psychoactive Substance Act 2016 made it an offence to produce, supply, offer to supply, possess with intent to supply, possess on custodial premises, import or export psychoactive substances. The number of crimes of production, supply or possession in custody of a psychoactive substance was 2 in 2018-19, 10 in 2019-20 and 8 in 2020-21.

An amendment[4] was made to the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971 which means that from 1st April 2019, gabapentin and pregabalin are controlled as Class C drugs under this act. Due to the low number of seizures involving these drugs in 2019-20, they are not presented separately within the publication.

Clearly, only a limited selection of tables can be included in any statistical bulletin. Further analysis of Drug Seizures in Scotland can be supplied on request. In certain cases a fee is charged. For details of what can be provided, please contact JusticeAnalysts@gov.scot.


Email: JusticeAnalysts@gov.scot

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