United Kingdom

Statistics and other data regarding drug policies in the United Kingdom, covering all areas including public safety/criminal justice, treatment, harm reduction, prevention, and public health. Please note: the United Kingdom section includes data for England, Wales, and Northern Ireland. Scotland does its own separate data reporting, so Scotland has a chapter of its own.

Estimated Drug Control Spending in England, 2013-2014

(Estimated Drug Control Spending in England, 2013-2014) "On 1st April 2013, local authorities became responsible for public health in England supported by a ring-fenced public health grant of £2.66 billion in 2013/14 and £2.79 billion in 2014/15. Historically, 34% of national spend on public health has been on substance misuse. Activity and performance on drug treatment influenced how much money local areas received in 2013-14 and will continue to be recognised in the target formula for the public health grants.

Little Evidence of Causal Gateway Effect for Soft Drugs

(Little Evidence of Causal Gateway Effect for Soft Drugs) "After applying these methods, there is very little remaining evidence of any causal gateway effect. For example, even if soft/medium drugs (cannabis, amphetamines, LSD, magic mushrooms, amyl nitrite) could somehow be abolished completely, the true causal link with hard drugs (crack, heroin, methadone) is found to be very small. For the sort of reduction in soft drug use that might be achievable in practice, the predicted causal effect on the demand for hard drugs would be negligible.

Low Priority Cannabis Violations

(Low Priority Cannabis Violations) Law enforcement authorities in the UK conducted an experiment in policing in the London borough of Lambeth, wherein cannabis violations were given a low priority. Researchers for PRS Consultancy Group undertook an evaluation of the program at the request of the Borough Police Commander. The researchers found that:
"The measures of police activity demonstrate that the policy has succeeded in releasing resources, and that activity against more serious offences has increased.

Policing of Cannabis in England

(Policing of Cannabis in England) South Bank University's Criminal Policy Research Unit conducted a detailed study of the policing of cannabis in England. The study found that:
"One in seven of all known offenders in England and Wales were arrested for the possession of cannabis.
"There has been a tenfold increase in the number of possession offences since the mid-1970s. There is no evidence that this increase has been an intended consequence of specific policy.
"Possession offences most often come to light as a by-product of other investigations.

Prevalence of Last-Year Powder Cocaine Use in England and Wales Among People Aged 16 to 59

"As in recent years, the second most commonly used drug in the last year among adults aged 16 to 59 was powder cocaine (2.3% in the 2016/17 survey, equating to around 760,000 people). Powder cocaine was also the second most commonly used drug among young adults aged 16 to 24 (4.8% or around 297,000 young adults) after cannabis. Both proportions remained similar to the previous year (2.2% of 16 to 59 year olds and 4.4% of 16 to 24 year olds in the 2015/16 survey). This trend is illustrated in Figure 1.3.

Prevalence of Last-Year Cannabis Use in England and Wales Among People Aged 16 to 59

"As in previous years, cannabis was the most commonly used drug in 2016/17, with 6.6 per cent of adults aged 16 to 59 having used it in the last year (around 2.2 million people), similar to the 2015/16 survey (6.5%). However, this is statistically significantly lower than a decade ago (8.2% in 2006/07) and the start of measurement in the survey in 1996 (9.4%). The trend from the 2009/10 survey onwards is relatively flat, remaining between six and seven per cent, as illustrated by Figure 1.2 (see Appendix Table 1.02 for detailed figures).

Treatment Effectiveness at Reducing Levels of Drug Use

"During the course of treatment, many treatment seekers stopped using the drugs that they reported using at entry to the study. Lower rates of drug use were recorded at each follow-up. Furthermore, those that continued to use tended to use less. Most of the changes observed occurred by first follow-up. For most forms of drug use, no particular treatment modality was more associated with cessation than any other and the route into treatment (CJS or non-CJS) did not influence drug-use outcomes.

Treatment Effectiveness at Reducing Levels of Offending

"Overall, lower levels of acquisitive offending and high-cost offending were recorded at follow-up. Among those who continued to offend, improvements in offending behaviour at follow-up, in terms of a decrease in its volume and/ or the costs associated with it, were observed. Crack users, injecting users, users with high SDS [Severity of Dependence Scores] scores, and those with previous treatment experience were more likely to offend than others at any point.

Opioid Substitution Treatment and Risk of New HIV Infection Among IDUs

"There is evidence from published and unpublished observational studies that opiate substitution treatment is associated with an average 54% reduction in the risk of new HIV infection among people who inject drugs. There is weak evidence to suggest that greater benefit might be associated with longer measured duration of exposure to opiate substitution treatment.