Heroin seizures in Scotland 'more than double'

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HeroinImage source, Getty Images

The amount of heroin seized by police in Scotland in the last financial year was more than double that recovered the previous year, new figures have shown.

The 118kg recovered in 2017/2018 was the highest amount seized in four years. It was more than twice the 54.1kg confiscated the previous year.

Police Scotland also seized more than 25,000 ecstasy-type tablets, almost three times the previous year's total.

The force said it would continue to pro-actively target those responsible.

There were 1,600 seizures last year compared with the previous year's figure of 1,562.

'Devastating impact'

The amount of cannabis recovered was up last year, however, cocaine seizures were down from 120.3kg in 2016/17 to 74.4kg.

The amount of diazepam and psychoactive drugs - known as benzodiazepines - seized was down from more than two million tablets to 320,000.

The figures also show a fall in the number of drug possession crimes to the lowest level for four years.

The Scottish government said the quantity of drugs seized could fluctuate considerably each year and did not necessarily move in line with the number of seizures made.

Drug seizure statistics

  • 49% of drugs were seized in the street or an open space
  • 24% of drugs were seized in a house or garden
  • 40% of drugs seized were herbal cannabis
  • 9% of drugs seized were heroin
  • 86% of offenders were male
  • The average age of offenders was 30

Ch Supt John McKenzie, who leads Safer Communities Scotland, said: "We recognise the devastating impact that drugs have on our communities and we are committed to tackling the sale and supply of controlled drugs.

"We will continue to pro-actively target those who are responsible for the manufacturing, importation, sale and distribution of illicit substances."

He added: "Enforcement alone will not solve the problem and we recognise the value of prevention and partnership engagement to tackle stigma and influence behaviour.

"By working closely with partners, we can safeguard the most vulnerable in our communities and make Scotland a safer place."

Lenient sentences

Justice Secretary Humza Yousaf, said: "In the last 10 years we have invested over £784m to tackle problem of alcohol and drug use.

"Our new alcohol and drugs strategy will strengthen existing measures to support those vulnerable to drug and alcohol harm, while applying the full force of the law to hit the dealers who cause misery that blights the lives of so many.

"Drug enforcement, including seizures, remains a key part of Police Scotland activity, supported by the Scottish government's commitment to protecting the police resource budget in every year of this parliament - a boost of £100m by 2021."

The Scottish Conservatives said the statistics showed police officers were doing more than ever to tackle Scotland's drug problem but the rest of Scotland's justice system was letting them down as serious drug offenders were routinely let off with lenient sentences.

Scottish Labour said the Scottish government should treat "the scale of the drug crisis in our communities" as a public health emergency.

And the Scottish Liberal Democrats called on the Scottish government to endorse "humane proposals" to establish heroin-assisted treatment clinics.