Drug Education News

News and views from the Drug Education Forum

Drug Misuse Declared

The Home Office have published their annual analysis of what the British Crime Survey says about drug use in England and Wales.

I’ll focus on what the chapter on young people, by which they mean 16 to 24 year olds, has to say.

The headlines are:

  • Around four in ten young people (42.2%) have ever used illicit drugs, two in ten had used one or more illicit drugs in the last year (21.3%) and just over one in ten in the last month (12.4%).
  • The use of Class A drugs was less common with 14.7 per cent of young people having ever used a Class A drug, 6.8 per cent using in the previous year and 3.2 per cent in the past month.
  • Cannabis remains the drug most likely to be used by young people; 17.9 per cent used cannabis in the last year.

They also report falling use of illicit drugs – largely due to declining reported use of cannabis – both over the short term and longer term. Use of Class A drugs has also fallen over the both the long and short term.

Read the rest of this entry »

Filed under: british crime survey

Crime in England and Wales 2007/2008

The Home Office have published their annual report on crime in England and Wales, which includes the British Crime Survey figures and police recorded crime.

On drugs they say:

Among 16 to 24 year olds there was a decrease in the use of any illicit drug in the last year, from 24.1% to 21.3%.

This they say is the lowest level since the first BCS results in 1995. They also say that Class A drug use amongst that age group is at its lowest level since 1995.

However, while self-reported use is down the police have been busier than last year:

The number of cannabis possession offences rose by 21%, largely associated with the increased police use of powers to issue cannabis warnings, an example of changes in police activity affecting trends.

Filed under: british crime survey, cannabis, illegal drugs,

British Crime Survey

The Home Office’s publication of the annual drug statistics from the British Crime Survey is the subject of widespread media attention.

The Guardian (x2) report:

British Crime Survey statistics showed that the proportion of 16- to 24-year-olds using cannabis slumped from 28% a decade ago to 21% now, with its declining popularity accelerating after the decision to downgrade the drug to class C was announced in January 2004.

They also have a leading article:

Though real, these risks [mental and physical health] need to be stated calmly. Scaremongering stories are so at odds with most users’ experience that they have actually encouraged the misguided belief among much of the middle class that dope is entirely benign: a Rowntree study last week showed youth professionals are less alert to the dangers than heavy cannabis smokers they work with.

The Telegraph takes a different tack:

The proportion of young adults taking cocaine has almost doubled under Labour, intensifying pressure on Gordon Brown to toughen up its drugs policy.

Figures from the Home Office’s British Crime Survey showed the number of 16 to 24-year-olds in England and Wales who admitted taking cocaine in the previous year increased from 3.2 per cent in 1998 to 6.1 per cent in 2006/07.

The Metro follows suit:

One in four young people tried illegal drugs including cocaine, a shocking new report reveals.

The most popular drug with 16 to 24-year-olds was cannabis – with more than 1.3million smoking the drug.

The Times makes similar points to other papers but also points to the methodological issues that the survey has:

The BCS admitted that it was likely to underestimate the overall use of heroin and crack and it did not interview people who were under 16.

Separate figures published yesterday on drug seizures in 2005 showed the impact of the policy to confiscate and warn people who are found with small amounts of cannabis. The number of cannabis seizures rose by 47 per cent to 114,202.

The BBC meanwhile point out that the survey is based on talking with 5,786 young people aged between 16 and 24.

It’s also in The Independent.

Filed under: british crime survey, ,

Trends in drug use among 16 to 24 year olds

The Independent has a story on the latest drug figures and focuses on the fall in the numbers using cannabis:

Even in 16 to 24-year-olds, where drug abuse is more commonplace, the use of cannabis has significantly declined. In 1998, 28.2 per cent of that age group were estimated to have taken cannabis. That figure has dropped to 21.4 per cent, or 1.338 million, in the past year.

The Home Office paper, Drug Misuse Declared: Findings from the 2005/06 British Crime Survey, has much more detail including a section on young people (16 -24) which finds:

  • The 2004/05 BCS estimated that 45.8% of 16 to 24 year olds had used one or more illicit drugs in their lifetime, 26.3% had used one or more illicit drugs in the last year (that is the year prior to interview) and 16.3% in the last month.
  • The survey also estimated that 15.8% of those aged 16 to 24 had used a Class A drug at least once in their lifetime, 8.1% had used at least one Class A drug in the last year and 3.7% in the last month.
  • Cannabis was the drug most likely to be used. The 2004/05 BCS estimated that 23.5% of 16 to 24 year olds used cannabis in the last year. Cocaine was the next most commonly used drug with 4.9% claiming to have used it in the previous year. This was closely followed by ecstasy at 4.8%. Amyl nitrite use was estimated at 3.8%, use of amphetamines at 3.3% and use of hallucinogens at 3.0%. Other drugs were more rarely used.

The report also says:

Between 1998 and 2004/05 the use of ‘Any drug’ in the past year by young people decreased. This was mainly due to the gradual decrease in cannabis use over this period. The use of most other non Class A drugs among young people remained stable between 1998 and 2004/05 apart from steady falls in the use of amphetamines and glues.

Filed under: british crime survey, illegal drugs

About this blog

This blog tries to pick up relevant media and research stories about drug education. It mainly focuses on information in England as this is the geographical remit for the Drug Education Forum. We welcome comments that are on topic.

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