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Drug misuse declared in 2000: key findings from the British Crime Survey.

 This document is published for archival/historical purposes. It will not be updated. 

Home Office Research Findings 149.

The British Crime Survey (BCS) is a large-scale household survey, measuring the experience of crime of the general public in England and Wales. One component of the survey focuses on self-reported drug-taking. As the same self-report process has been used in the 1994, 1996, 1998 and 2000 surveys, the changing patterns of illicit drug use by people aged 16 to 59 can be examined.

The targets set in the Government’s anti-drugs strategy are to reduce ‘last year’ and ‘last month’ Class A drug use among young people under 25 by 25% by 2005 and 50% by 2008. Class A drugs are the most harmful drugs which carry the severest penalties for offences including possession and supply.

Baseline figures for the strategy were provided by the 1998 survey. The results of the 2000 survey can now be used to assess initial progress in relation to heroin, cocaine and Class A drug use among young people. 

These findings concentrate on those aged 16 to 24 but the overall picture covers a wider span of age ranges.

Key points:

While there have been some increases from 1998 (the baseline) to 2000 in heroin, cocaine and all Class A drug use among 16 to 24 year-olds, these were not statistically significant. 

Drug use reported in 2000 BCS :

  • Around half of young people aged 16 to 24 have tried drugs at some point in their lives. 

  • More recent use is lower at 29% for the last year and 18% for the last month.

  • Cannabis remains the most widely consumed drug in all age groups. Around 45% of 16 to 24 year-olds reported that they had tried cannabis at some point in their lives.

Changes since the 1994 survey:

  • The proportion of 16 to 24 year-olds using any drug in the last year has remained stable at 29% for each of the four sweeps.

  • Similar stability is seen with respect to both cannabis and Class A drugs, with 26% and 9% reporting use in the last year respectively.

  • Divergent trends were found for the 16 to 19 year-olds: their rate of overall drug use has fallen by a fifth from 34% in 1994 to 27% in 2000; cocaine use, however, has risen significantly from 1% in 1994 to 4% in 2000. Similarly, the proportion of 16 to 24 year-olds using cocaine in the last year rose significantly from 1% in 1994 to 5% in 2000.

Download the full report   PDF 55 Mb

Last update: Wednesday, August 27, 2008

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