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Drug crime statistics for England and Wales

11 November 2020
Drug crime statistics for England and Wales

The latest government briefing on drug-related crime for England and Wales includes both police recorded crime data and insights from the Crime Survey for England and Wales (CSEW). In the last year (2019-2020) there were 175,000 drug offences recorded by the police, this is 13% higher than 2018-2019. In making yearly comparisons, it is important to note that national totals exclude figures from Greater Manchester for the years ending March 2019 and March 2020 so these figures are not directly comparable with previous years. However, there is some evidence that the increase has reversed some of the positive progress from the past 10 years.

When the figures are broken down by area it is apparent that Merseyside recorded the highest rate of drug offences, with 8.3 per 1,000 population in 2019-2020, up from 6.1 in 2018-2019. Warwickshire had the lowest rate of 1.6 offences per 1,000 individuals (the same as the previous year).

In 2018-2019, there were around 48,800 disposals given (cases dealt with) for drug offences. Between 2008-2009 and 2018-2019, the proportion of drug offenders receiving a caution fell from 46% to 30%, while the proportion receiving a custodial sentence increased from 9% to 16%. In 2018/-2019, 20,800 Penalty Notice Disposals (PNDs) were issued. The number of PNDs issued has fallen over the past decade from around 175,000 in 2008-2009 (an 88% decrease). After drunk and disorderly offences, possession of cannabis was the second most common offence for which the offender received a PND (accounting for 25% of all PNDs issued).

The trend in the police recorded crime data was replicated in the findings from CSEW. The proportion of CSEW respondents that had personally experienced or witnessed ‘people using or dealing drugs’ in their local area increased from 9% in 2018-2019 to 10.8% in 2019-2020. This proportion has doubled from 4.4% in 2016-2017.

A more detailed summary is available here.

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