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Publication - Statistics Publication

Drug seizures and offender characteristics: 2016-2017

Published: 27 Mar 2018
Part of:
Law and order, Statistics
ISBN:
9781788516839

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

19 page PDF

464.0kB

19 page PDF

464.0kB

Contents
Drug seizures and offender characteristics: 2016-2017
Number of seizures and quantities of drugs seized

19 page PDF

464.0kB

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 1 shows that in 2016-17, Police Scotland reported that they seized 54.1 kilograms (kg) of heroin, 120.3 kg of cocaine and 5.2 kg of crack cocaine from drug supply crimes. This is compared to 74.0 kilograms (kg) of heroin, 82.7 kg of cocaine and 4.2 kg of crack cocaine in 2015-16.
  • Approximately 8,600 ecstasy-type tablets were seized in 2016-17, compared to 13,400 in 2015-16.
  • 1.1 litres of methadone was seized by Police Scotland in 2016-17, compared to 4.3 litres in 2015-16.
  • Compared to other types of Class A Drugs, relatively small amounts of LSD and morphine were seized in 2016-17.
  • In addition to the information in Table 1, there were 47 supply-based seizures of 'Other' Class A drugs in 2016-17, including 1 seizure of methylamphetamine.

Table 1: Class A drugs seized by Police Scotland from drug supply crimes, by drug type, 2014-15 to 2016-17 1

2014-15
Drug Units Number of Seizures Quantity Seized
Cocaine Powder kg 366 75.7
Crack Cocaine kg 3 0.0
Ecstasy-type Substances tablets (000s) 89 15.1
Heroin kg 553 106.1
LSD tablets/other units (000s) 3 0.1
Methadone litres 34 8.1
Morphine litres 3 0.1
2015-16
Drug Units Number of Seizures Quantity Seized
Cocaine Powder kg 506 82.7
Crack Cocaine kg 25 4.2
Ecstasy-type Substances tablets (000s) 148 13.4
Heroin kg 737 74.0
LSD tablets/other units (000s) 6 0.0
Methadone litres 11 4.3
Morphine litres 18 0.0
2016-17
Drug Units Number of Seizures Quantity Seized
Cocaine Powder kg 488 120.3
Crack Cocaine kg 85 5.2
Ecstasy-type Substances tablets (000s) 150 8.6
Heroin kg 815 54.1
LSD tablets/other units (000s) 9 0.1
Methadone litres 12 1.1
Morphine litres 3 0.6

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

Class B drugs seized from drug supply crimes

  • Table 2 shows the quantities of Class B drugs seized in 2016-17.
  • The quantity of cannabis-related drug seizures from drug supply crimes in 2016-17 included 347.9 kg of herbal cannabis, 322.1 kg of cannabis resin and 18,310 cannabis plants. This is compared to 413.9 kg of herbal cannabis, 570.4 kg of cannabis resin and almost 31,400 cannabis plants in 2015-16.
  • There was 14.6 kg of mephedrone seized from drug supply crimes in 2016-17, compared to 0.9 kg in 2015-16. There was 10.0 kg of ketamine seized in 2016-17, compared to very small quantities (less than a kilogram) in 2014-15 and 2015-16. There were 109.9 kg of amphetamines seized in 2016-17, compared to 71.8 kg seized in 2015-16.
  • In addition to the information in Table 2, there were 17 supply-based seizures of 'Other' Class B drugs in 2016-17.

Table 2: Class B drugs seized by Police Scotland from drug supply crimes, by drug type, 2014-15 to 2016-17 1

2014-15
Drug Units Number of Seizures Quantity Seized
Herbal Cannabis kg 731 165.4
Cannabis resin kg 268 153.4
Cannabis plants plants 594 13,022
Amphetamines kg 124 118.4
Barbiturates tablets (000s) - -
Ketamine kg 2 0.0
Mephedrone kg 2 0.0
2015-16
Drug Units Number of Seizures Quantity Seized
Herbal Cannabis kg 905 413.9
Cannabis resin kg 400 570.4
Cannabis plants plants 655 31,398
Amphetamines kg 135 71.8
Barbiturates tablets (000s) - -
Ketamine kg 2 0.0
Mephedrone kg 11 0.9
2016-17
Drug Units Number of Seizures Quantity Seized
Herbal Cannabis kg 849 347.9
Cannabis resin kg 329 322.1
Cannabis plants plants 683 18,310
Amphetamines kg 151 109.9
Barbiturates tablets (000s) - -
Ketamine kg 7 10.0
Mephedrone kg 22 14.6

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

Class C drugs seized from drug supply crimes

  • Table 3 shows the quantities of Class C drugs seized from drug supply crimes.
  • Most Class C seizures were of diazepam and other benzodiazepines, with almost 2.2 million tablets seized in 2016-17. This is compared to 1.3 million tablets seized in 2015-16 and 1.2 million seized in 2014-15. Whilst it is not possible to present figures for these two drug types separately, the vast majority of tablets seized are likely to have been diazepam.
  • Approximately 12,100 tablets of anabolic steroids were seized in 2016-17, compared to 300 in both 2014-15 and 2015-16. Approximately 34,200 tablets of temazepam were seized in 2016-17, compared to approximately 1,300 in 2015-16.
  • In addition to the information in Table 3, there were 42 supply-based seizures of 'Other' Class C drugs in 2016-17.

Table 3: Class C drugs seized by Police Scotland from drug supply crimes, by drug type, 2014-15 to 2016-17 1

2014-15
Drug Units Number of Seizures Quantity Seized
Anabolic Steroids tablets (000s) 3 0.3
GHB litres 0 0.0
Temazepam tablets (000s) 2 0.0
Diazepam and other Benzodiazepines tablets (000s) 419 1,182.7
2015-16
Drug Units Number of Seizures Quantity Seized
Anabolic Steroids tablets (000s) 5 0.3
GHB litres 2 0.0
Temazepam tablets (000s) 4 1.3
Diazepam and other Benzodiazepines tablets (000s) 382 1,276.1
2016-17
Drug Units Number of Seizures Quantity Seized
Anabolic Steroids tablets (000s) 52 12.1
GHB litres - 0.0
Temazepam tablets (000s) 2 34.2
Diazepam and other Benzodiazepines tablets (000s) 316 2,165.4

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

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 27,766 drug possession crimes recorded by the police in 2016-17, compared to 31,632 drug possession crimes in 2014-15 and 29,929 in 2015-16. Further information can be found in Recorded Crime in Scotland, 2016-17.
  • Table 4 shows the distribution of the classification of drugs seized in the sample for 2014-15 to 2016-17. There is also a resulting estimate of the total number of possession crimes involving each class of drug.
  • In 2016-17, 62.5% of all drug possession crimes were estimated to involve Class B drugs. A further 22.5% of all drug possession crimes were estimated to involve Class A drugs, whilst 14.0% involved a Class C drug.
  • Although there are some differences in the proportions of the classes of drugs seized from 2014-15 to 2016-17, none of these differences were found to be statistically significant.

Table 4: Estimated number of drug possession crimes by drug classification, 2014-15 to 2016-17

2014-15
Drug Class Percentage of records in the sample Estimated total number of crimes 1
Class A 15.8% 5,000
Class B 68.0% 21,500
Class C 15.8% 5,000
Unclassified 2 0.5% 200
Total 100% 31,632
2015-16
Drug Class Percentage of records in the sample Estimated total number of crimes 1
Class A 17.5% 5,200
Class B 67.5% 20,200
Class C 14.5% 4,300
Unclassified 2 0.5% 100
Total 100% 29,929
2016-17
Drug Class Percentage of records in the sample Estimated total number of crimes 1
Class A 22.5% 6,200
Class B 62.5% 17,400
Class C 14.0% 3,900
Unclassified 2 1.0% 300
Total 100% 27,766

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.

Quantity of drugs seized from drug possession Crimes

  • In 2016-17, cocaine, heroin, herbal cannabis, cannabis resin and diazepam accounted for 87.7% 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 2016-17, 60.1% of all possession-related seizures involved these two drug types.
  • Table 5 provides estimates of the quantity of drugs seized from 2014-15 to 2016-17 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 by Police Scotland from drug possession crimes, by drug type, 2014-15 to 2016-17

2014-15
Drug Units Percentage of sample Estimated number of crimes 1 Estimated quantity seized
Cocaine kg 7.8% 2,500 4.1
Heroin kg 4.8% 1,500 0.8
Herbal Cannabis kg 43.0% 13,600 36.2
Cannabis Resin kg 21.0% 6,600 14.8
Diazepam tablets (000s) 14.5% 4,600 151.3
2015-16
Drug Units Percentage of sample Estimated number of crimes 1 Estimated quantity seized
Cocaine kg 8.3% 2,500 6.1
Heroin kg 6.0% 1,800 2.1
Herbal Cannabis kg 46.8% 14,000 36.8
Cannabis Resin kg 16.8% 5,000 17.6
Diazepam tablets (000s) 12.3% 3,700 63.2
2016-17
Drug Units Percentage of sample Estimated number of crimes 1 Estimated quantity seized
Cocaine kg 10.3% 2,900 5.2
Heroin kg 7.5% 2,100 2.1
Herbal Cannabis kg 41.8% 11,600 39.6
Cannabis Resin kg 18.3% 5,100 32.6
Diazepam tablets (000s) 9.8% 2,700 71.8

1. 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 1, 2 and 3 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 2016-17, 125.5 kg of cocaine was seized in total compared to 88.8 kg in 2015-16. There were also 56.2 kg of heroin seized in 2016-17, compared to 76.1 kg in the previous year and 106.8 kg in 2014-15.
  • In total, 387.2 kg of herbal cannabis was seized in 2016-17 compared to 450.7 kg in 2015-16. The quantity of cannabis resin seized in 2016-17 was 354.7 kg compared to 588.0 kg in 2015-16.
  • Approximately 2.2 million diazepam tablets were seized in 2016-17, compared to 1.3 million in each of 2014-15 and 2015-16.

Table 6: Estimated total quantity of drugs seized by Police Scotland, by drug type, 2014-15 to 2016-17 1

2014-15
Drug Units Drug Class Estimated quantity seized
Cocaine kg A 79.9
Heroin kg A 106.8
Herbal Cannabis kg B 201.6
Cannabis Resin kg B 168.2
Diazepam 2 tablets (000s) C 1,334.0
2015-16
Drug Units Drug Class Estimated quantity seized
Cocaine kg A 88.8
Heroin kg A 76.1
Herbal Cannabis kg B 450.7
Cannabis Resin kg B 588.0
Diazepam 2 tablets (000s) C 1,339.3
2016-17
Drug Units Drug Class Estimated quantity seized
Cocaine kg A 125.5
Heroin kg A 56.2
Herbal Cannabis kg B 387.2
Cannabis Resin kg B 354.7
Diazepam 2 tablets (000s) C 2,237.2

1. 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 and 100% in 2016-17.
2. For the element of this which applies to supply based crimes a small proportion of these will be other benzodiazepines.


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