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Publication - Statistics Publication

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

Published: 27 Jun 2017
Part of:
Law and order, Statistics
ISBN:
9781788510424

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

17 page PDF

858.6kB

17 page PDF

858.6kB

Contents
Drug seizures and offender characteristics: 2014-2015 and 2015-2016
Number of Seizures and Quantities of Drugs Seized

17 page PDF

858.6kB

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. For both years it was not possible to collect data from every police record around these crimes. As such the figures provided relate to an estimated 85% and 92% of drug supply-related crimes in 2014-15 and 2015-16 respectively, for full information see the Data Quality Statement in the Annex.

Class A drugs seized from Drug Supply Crimes

  • Table 1 shows that in 2015-16, Police Scotland reported that they seized 74.0 kilograms (kg) of heroin, 82.7 kg of cocaine and 4.2 kg of crack cocaine from drug supply crimes. This is compared to 106.1 kg of heroin, 75.7 kg of cocaine and 0.0 kg of crack cocaine in 2014-15.
  • Approximately 13,400 ecstasy-type tablets were seized in 2015-16, compared to just over 15,000 in 2014-15.
  • 4.3 litres of methadone was seized by Police Scotland in 2015-16, compared to 8.1 litres in 2014-15.

Table 1: Number of seizures and quantity seized from supply crimes - Class A drugs 1

2014-15 2015-16
Drug Units Number of Seizures Quantity Seized Number of Seizures Quantity Seized
Cocaine Powder kg 366 75.7 506 82.7
Crack Cocaine kg 3 0.0 25 4.2
Ecstasy-type Substances tablets (000s) 89 15.1 148 13.4
Heroin kg 553 106.1 737 74.0
LSD tablets (000s) 3 0.1 6 0.0
Methadone litres 34 8.1 11 4.3
Methylamphetamine kg 0 0.0 0 0.0
Morphine litres 3 0.1 18 0.0

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

  • Compared to other types of Class A Drugs, relatively small amounts of LSD and methylamphetamine (or "speed") were seized in 2014-15 and 2015-16.

Class B drugs seized from Drug Supply Crimes

  • Table 2 shows the quantities of class B drugs seized in 2014-15 and 2015-16.

Table 2: Number of seizures and quantity seized from supply crimes - Class B drugs 1

2014-15 2015-16
Drug Units Number of Seizures Quantity Seized Number of Seizures Quantity Seized
Herbal Cannabis kg 731 165.4 905 413.9
Cannabis resin kg 268 153.4 400 570.4
Cannabis plants plants 594 13,022 655 31,398
Amphetamines kg 124 118.4 135 71.8
Barbiturates tablets (000s) 0 0.0 0 0.0
Ketamine kg 2 0.0 2 0.0
Mephedrone kg 2 0.0 11 0.9

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

  • The quantity of cannabis related drug seizures from drug supply crimes in 2015-16 included 413.9 kg of herbal cannabis, 570.4 kg of cannabis resin and almost 31,400 cannabis plants. This is compared to 165.4 kg of herbal cannabis, 153.4 kg of cannabis resin and just over 13,000 cannabis plants in 2014-15.
  • There were 71.8 kg of amphetamines and 0.9 kg of mephedrone seized from drug supply crimes in 2015-16.

Class C drugs seized from Drug Supply Crimes

  • Table 3 shows the quantities of class C drugs seized from drug supply crimes.

Table 3: Number of seizures and quantity seized from supply crimes - Class C drugs 1

2014-15 2015-16
Drug Units Number of Seizures Quantity Seized Number of Seizures Quantity Seized
Anabolic Steroids tablets (000s) 3 0.3 5 0.3
GHB litres 0 0.0 2 0.0
Temazepam tablets (000s) 2 0.0 4 1.3
Diazepam and other Benzodiazepines tablets (000s) 419 1,182.7 382 1,276.1

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

  • Most class C seizures were of diazepam and other benzodiazepines, with approximately 1.2 million tablets seized in 2014-15 and 1.3 million tablets in 2015-16. In previous bulletins separate figures were presented on seizures of diazepam and other benzodiazepines, however this split has not been possible for 2014-15 and 2015-16. Whilst a combined figure has been presented on this occasion, the vast majority of tablets seized are likely to have been diazepam.
  • Approximately 300 tablets of anabolic steroids and approximately 1,300 tablets of temazepam were seized in 2015-16.

Drug Possession Crimes

  • The majority of seizures of controlled drugs are from drug possession crimes, 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

  • In total, there were 31,632 drug possession crimes recorded by the police in 2014-15, and 29,929 drug possession crimes in 2015-16.
  • Table 4 shows the distribution of the classification of drugs seized in the sample for 2014-15 and 2015-16 respectively. There is also a resulting estimate of the total number of possession crimes involving each class of drug.

Table 4: Estimated number of drug possession crimes by drug classification, 2014-15 and 2015-16

2014-15 2015-16
Drug Class Percentage of records in the sample Estimated total number of crimes 1 Percentage of records in the sample Estimated total number of crimes 1
Class A 15.8% 5,000 17.5% 5,200
Class B 68.0% 21,500 67.5% 20,200
Class C 15.8% 5,000 14.5% 4,300
Unclassified 2 0.5% 200 0.5% 100
Total 100% 31,632 100% 29,929

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

  • For both years, slightly more than two thirds of all drug possession crimes were estimated to involve class B drugs.
  • The remaining third of drug possession seizures involved class A or class C drugs. In 2014-15 the sample estimated an even split between the two classes. In 2015-16 there were slightly more seizures involving class A drugs than class C, however this difference is not statistically significant.

Quantity of drugs seized from Drug Possession Crimes

  • Tables 5 and 6 provide estimates of the quantity of drugs seized from 2014-15 and 2015-16 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 5: Quantity of drugs seized from drug possession crime by drug type, 2014-15

Drug Units Drug Class Percentage of sample Estimated number of crimes 1 Estimated quantity seized
Cocaine kg A 7.8% 2,500 4.1
Heroin kg A 4.8% 1,500 0.8
Herbal Cannabis kg B 43.0% 13,600 36.2
Cannabis Resin kg B 21.0% 6,600 14.8
Diazepam tablets (000s) C 14.5% 4,600 151.3

1. As these figures are estimates they have been rounded to the nearest 100

Table 6: Quantity of drugs seized from drug possession crime by drug type, 2015-16

Drug Units Drug Class Percentage of sample Estimated number of crimes 1 Estimated quantity seized
Cocaine kg A 8.3% 2,500 6.1
Heroin kg A 6.0% 1,800 2.1
Herbal Cannabis kg B 46.8% 14,000 36.8
Cannabis Resin kg B 16.8% 5,000 17.6
Diazepam tablets (000s) C 12.3% 3,700 63.2

1. As these figures are estimates they have been rounded to the nearest 100

  • In both years, cocaine, heroin, herbal cannabis, cannabis resin and diazepam accounted for approximately 90% of all drug possession seizures. The quantities seized for most of these drugs is reasonably similar between 2014-15 and 2015-16. The exception to this is diazepam where an estimated 151,300 tablets were seized in 2014-15, compared to 63,200 tablets in 2015-16.
  • Herbal cannabis is the most commonly seized drug by a considerable margin, with cannabis resin the second most commonly seized drug. In both years just under two-thirds (64%) of all possession-related seizures involved these two drug types.

Overall quantity of drugs seized

  • Table 7 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 7, 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 1, 2 and 3 should provide a reasonable estimate of the total quantity seized.

Table 7: Total quantity of drugs seized by drug type, 2014-15 and 2015-16 2

Drug Units Drug Class Estimated quantity seized in 2014-15 Estimated quantity seized in 2015-16
Cocaine kg A 79.9 88.8
Heroin kg A 106.8 76.1
Herbal Cannabis kg B 201.6 450.7
Cannabis Resin kg B 168.2 588.0
Diazepam 1 tablets (000s) C 1,334.0 1,339.3

1. For the element of this which applies to supply based crimes a small proportion of these will be other benzodiazepines
2. For the element of this which applies to supply based crimes there was an estimated coverage of 85% of crimes in 2014-15 and 92% of crimes in 2015-16.

  • For all of these drugs types the quantity of drugs seized from possession crimes is relatively small when compared to the quantity seized from supply crimes.
  • In 2015-16, 88.8 kg of cocaine was seized in total compared to 79.9 kg in 2014-15. There was also 76.1 kg of heroin seized in 2015-16 compared to 106.8 kg in the previous year.
  • In total, 450.7 kg of herbal cannabis was seized in 2015-16 compared to 201.6 kg in 2014-15. The quantity of cannabis resin seized in 2015-16 was 588.0 kg compared to 168.2 kg in 2014-15.
  • Approximately 1.3 million diazepam tablets were seized in both 2014-15 and 2015-16.

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