Recent reduction in drug seizures

Recent reduction in drug seizures

Recently published statistics have shown that there has been a decrease in the overall number of drug seizures made by Police and the Border Force.  For 2016/17, there was a total of 138955 drug seizures made by the authorities which is a 6% decrease from 2015/16 and a staggering 42% since 2008/9.  In this article, Tim Cosham explains the figures.  

Class A – increase in seizures made 

The classification of drugs is still governed by the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971 which categorises all the illegal substances into one of three classes depending on the potential harm caused to the user and/or society, with class A being the most “harmful” and class C being the least.  The most commonly seized drugs remain class A drugs with cocaine being involved in around 50% of seizures involving class A drugs. 

The most commonly misused class A drugs (according to the drug seizure statistics) are cocaine, heroin and crack cocaine.  There has been a 1% increase in the number of heroin seizures and an alarming 16% increase in the number of seizures of crack cocaine.  As a practitioner, this is mirrored by the number of clients seen suffering with an addiction to heroin or crack or, very often, both in recent years.

Class B – Cannabis still dominates 

In relation to class B drugs, the statistics are dominated by cannabis; 96% of all class B seizures involved at least one form of cannabis.  However, an overall decrease in the amount of class B drugs seized by 9% mirrors the overall trend.   In fact, the amount of cannabis seized last year is the lowest since 2004.  Does this trend show an increasing disinterest from the authorities towards cannabis or are less people misusing the drug?  With more clients being given words of advice by the Police in relation to cannabis and street cautions being administered it would seem that the Police priorities lie elsewhere.

Class C – benzo’s

39% of all class C drugs seized were benzodiazepines known colloquially as “benzos” or by the medicinal terms of Valium or diazepam.  These generally have a sedative effect upon users and can assist to reduce anxiety and agitation.  Overall, there has been a 2% decrease in the amount of class C drugs seized and it is rare to see such offences brought before the Courts.

What exactly is “personal use”? 

Significantly, the statistics for the quantities of each drug per seizure shows that the bulk of the seizures are from individual users with amounts for “personal use”.  There is no legal definition of “personal use” but it is generally regarded as a small amount that would last one a short amount of time.  For both cocaine and heroin, 61% of all seizures of those drugs were under 1 gram; for crack, it was 59%.  For cannabis, 72% of all seizures of herbal cannabis (the most commonly seized form of cannabis) were less than 5 grams. 

It is a sad truth that many of the clients we deal with on a daily basis are inflicted in some way by substance misuse and addiction.  Many youths and clients with mental health issues turn to cannabis as a means of escape.  The majority of our clients struggling with homelessness have an addiction to crack and/or heroin which can be either the cause or a product of their homelessness.  

We are aware of many of the difficulties that lead to drug use or which result from such misuse and all too often lead to involvement with the Criminal Justice System.  However, whether one has been caught with 0.5 grams of cocaine or 25 kilograms of cannabis Old Bailey Solicitors are here to assist at all stages of proceedings.  For more information, click here

Tim Cosham

Tim Cosham

Tim qualified as a Solicitor in 2009 and specialises in Criminal Defence work. He regularly appears at Magistrates Courts and Police Stations to represent clients accused of all offences from shoplifting to murder.

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