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Comprises British Crime Survey (BCS) findings on Misuse of Drugs and Seizures of Drugs reported by the police and HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC). Drug crimes recorded and detected by the police included within main recorded crime series; sentencing statistics for these offences included in main offender series.

Publications

Crime Statistics
Department: Office for National Statistics
Crime statistics from the Crime Survey for England and Wales and police recorded crime.
Drug Seizure Statistics, Scotland
Department: Scottish Government
This bulletin presents figures for drug seizures made by Police forces in Scotland. The statistics in this publication relate to drugs controlled under the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971.
Drug misuse declared, England and Wales
Department: Home Office
Drug use statistics for adults and young people in England and Wales from the British Crime Survey.
Drug seizures in England and Wales
Department: Home Office
Seizures of class A, B and C drugs by the police and (from 2012/13) Border Force.
Drugs in Wales
Department: Welsh Assembly Government
This Statistical Bulletin presents data on drug crime in wales
Violence at Work
Department: Health and Safety Executive
latest statistics on work related violence and its component parts, threats and physical assault

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Overview

British Crime Survey (BCS) Misuse of Drugs covers the extent of illicit drug use among 16- to 59-year-olds in England and Wales, each financial year based on BCS interviews. Particular focus on young people, and demographic and geographic variations in drug use.

Drug Seizures covers seizures made during each year (calendar year up to 2005, financial year from 2006/07) by police forces in England and Wales (including British Transport Police) together with information from HMRC.

Both measures relate to the misuse of drugs controlled by the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971, which divides drugs into three categories according to their harmfulness, as well as key drug types.

Recorded Drug Offences are police recorded crime statistics, which separately identify offences of drug trafficking and drug possession.

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Technical Data

British Crime Survey (BCS) Coverage

Following a methodological review in 2000, the BCS became a continuous survey. In 2001/02 the reporting period moved from a calendar to a financial year. The 2007/08 BCS was based on a nationally representative sample of adults aged 16 or over living in private households in England and Wales. The figures in this report are based on interviews conducted between April 2007 and March 2008. The reference period for last year drug use (when respondents are asked about their drug use in the 12 months prior to the interview) will range from April 2006 for the earliest interviews to March 2008 for the latest.

The drugs self-report component of the BCS

At the close of the face-to-face part of the interview (which mainly covers questions on experiences of crime victimisation and perceptions of crime-related issues), the laptop is handed to respondents by the interviewer so they can complete the drugs module by themselves. When respondents have finished the self-report component, their answers are hidden and they are able to pass the laptop back to the interviewer.

The use of self-completion on laptops allows respondents to feel more at ease when answering questions on illicit behaviour because of increased confidence in the privacy and confidentiality of the survey. The self-completion module is restricted to those respondents aged 16 to 59 years (the decision to exclude those aged 60 and over was an economy measure, reflecting their very low prevalence rates for the use of prohibited drugs).

The BCS as a survey of drug use

As a household survey, the BCS provides an effective measure of the more commonly used drugs for which the majority of users are contained within the household population. However, the BCS does not cover some small, potentially important groups given that they may have relatively high rates of drug use; notably the homeless, and those living in certain institutions such as prisons or student halls of residence. In practice, no household survey will necessarily reach those problematic drug users whose lives are so busy or chaotic that they are hardly ever at home or are unable to take part in an interview.

As a result, the BCS is likely to underestimate the overall use of drugs such as opiates and crack cocaine, where the majority of users are concentrated within small subsections of the population not covered by the survey. However, this is likely to have only a marginal impact on overall estimates of drug use.
 
The BCS does not include children under 16 but there is an established National Statistics series giving trends on drug use amongst children aged 11 to 15 years. This is collected annually via the survey of drug use, smoking and drinking among young people in England (see Fuller, 2008).

Trends over time

The British Crime Survey (BCS) Misuse of Drugs bulletin presents trends in drug use since 1996, the point from when the BCS has included a comparable self-completion module of questions on illicit drug use. Trends are also presented since 1998, the year in which the current Government’s first Drug Strategy began. Measures from the BCS were used to measure progress in delivering the 1998 Drug Strategy (see Box 1.1). The Home Office has recently published the next ten-year Drug Strategy.

Warnings for Cannabis Possession

With effect from 1 April 2004 the Home Office issued guidance to all police forces in relation to the recording of formal warnings for cannabis possession, which was in line with the Association of Chief Police officers (ACPO) guidance. This gave an additional disposal option of a formal warning for cannabis possession. Whereas a simple caution involves processing an individual at a police station, a formal warning (now ‘street warnings’) could be completed on the street. The introduction of these warnings is a contributory factor in the increase in the number of cannabis seizures in 2005.

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Glossary

  • British Crime Survey

    The British Crime Survey (BCS) is a large nationally representative survey of adults living in private households in England and Wales. In addition to asking respondents about their experiences of crime, the BCS also asks about a number of other crime-related topics. Since 1996, the BCS has included a comparable self-completion module of questions on illicit drug use.

  • Class A Drugs

    The most serious category of illicit substances classified under the Misuse of Drugs Act. Includes cocaine powder, crack cocaine, ecstasy (that is, MDMA), LSD, magic mushrooms, heroin, methadone and amphetamines (prepared for injection). All these categories except amphetamines are included in the British Crime Survey report.

  • Class B Drugs

    Includes amphetamine powder, certain tranquilisers (such as. barbiturates) and cannabis (before January 2004 and since January 2009).

  • Class C Drugs

    Includes anabolic steroids, cannabis (between January 2004 and January 2009), ketamine, GHB and certain tranquilisers (for example, benzodiazepines, temazepam).

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Contact Details

For statistical enquiries about this topic, please contact:

Crime Statistics

Email: crimestats.rds@homeoffice.gsi.gov.uk

Telephone: +44 (0) 20 7035 6823

Home Office 5th Floor Peel 2 Marsham Street London SW1P 4DF

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