Number of drug offences in the UK 2002-2020

For the period between 2002/03 and 2019/20 drug offences in the United Kingdom peaked in 2008/09 when there was over 289 thousand of these offences. Since the peak in that year the number of drug offences has declined, with 2017/18 having the fewest number of offences. Although in the most recent reporting year drug offences were at a six-year high of over 225.6 thousand offences.

Cannabis involved in highest number of seizures

In 2018/19 the police seized Cannabis over 108.3 thousand, as compared to what they seized in 2008/09 when there were almost 183 thousand cannabis seizures made. While the current government has no plans to legalize the drug, a majority of UK citizens surveyed in 2018 thought that the drug should be legal, with 68 percent of 18 to 24 year old’s supporting its legalization.

Regional drug seizure rate

London was the region with the highest drug seizure rate in England and Wales in 2018/19 at 3.5 thousand seizures per million people, followed by the North East of England, and then Wales. By contrast the North West of England had the lowest of any region, with 1.5 thousand seizures per million people in the same year.

Number of drug offences in the United Kingdom from 2002/03 to 2019/20

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Release date

October 2020


United Kingdom

Survey time period

April 1, 2002 to March 31, 2020

Supplementary notes

Statistic calculated from the data provided in individual country reports available at the following reports.

Crime in England and Wales from the Office of National Statistics

Homicide in Scotland from the Scottish Government

Police Recorded Crime in Northern Ireland from PSNI

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Statistics on "Cannabis in the UK"

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