Drug Seizures by Police Scotland, 2013-14

Statistical bulletin on drug seizures recorded by Police Scotland in 2013-14

This document is part of a collection


Data Quality Statement

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

This current statistical collection depends on a system of collation that requires manual checks of thousands of crime reports to establish quantities of drugs seized. The process of collating this information for 2013-14 has highlighted variable levels of quality assurance, as may be expected given the labour-intensive nature of this exercise. Through this some issues were identified, further detail on which is set out below.

  • Prior to 2013-14, seizures involving more than one drug were counted as a single seizure in the total number of seizures, but were counted separately against each individual drug or drug class involved. As a seizure can involve more than one type of drug, figures for individual drug classes cannot be added together to produce totals. Therefore the number of seizures of drug by class can add up to more than the total number of seizures.
  • This year (2013-14) a number of records supplied by Police Scotland did not follow this practice, with some instances of a single seizure (where more than one type of drug was seized) being recorded as multiple seizures. This issue has no impact on the individual number of seizures by drug type and a limited impact on the number of seizures by drug class. However caution should be taken when interpreting the overall figure of 29,138 for total drug seizures in 2013-14 as presented in Table 1. There will be an element of over-estimation with this figure given the double counting of those seizures where more than one type of drug was seized.
  • During the production of previous bulletins, figures for earlier years were revised. This process has not been enacted for the 2012-13 data as not all geographic areas within Police Scotland were able to confirm or supply revisions when they submitted their 2013-14 data. This may have a slight effect on the interpretation of year-on-year changes for the quantities seized for all drugs reported in this bulletin.
  • A small proportion (25.3 kg out of 845.8 kg or 3%) of cannabis seized had an unknown type.

Given the issues outlined above, the current model of collating information on drug seizures will be reviewed with stakeholders to identify the potential for improvements, both to the data collection process and the overall value of these statistics.

The review will consider the range of statistics held by Police Scotland in relation to illicit drug crime in Scotland, and will also investigate what demand there may be for statistics on drug crime beyond the statutory requirements on quantities seized as outlined in the Background section.

The review will conclude prior to the production of the 2014-15 statistics so as to allow any findings to be considered as part of this process. Users can be kept informed about these developments through registering with ScotStat: http://www.gov.scot/Topics/Statistics/scotstat.

In addition to this, 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 offences). This is presented within their Quarterly Management Information Reports, which are available from the 'Our Performance' section of Police Scotland's website:


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

Justice Analytical Services publishes a work plan each year detailing the programme of work planned over the current financial year period. The work of the division covers both an agreed forward programme of analytical priorities, and routine analytical work particularly related to the compilation of National and Official Statistics, ongoing project management and knowledge transfer activity.

Analytical planning to develop a programme for the financial year 2015-16 followed a structured process of engagement with policy colleagues which was designed to closely align our analysis with current policy priorities and to the delivery of outcomes. The work plan is available via the following link: http://www.gov.scot/Topics/Statistics/Browse/Crime-Justice/JASAP11-12.

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 telephone Alastair Greig on 0131 244 5428or e-mail: justiceanalysts@gov.scot.


Email: Alastair Greig

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