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4 November 2005

STEVENSON CONDEMNS EXECUTIVE'S ‘STAGGERING INABILITY’ IN DRUGS FIGHT

SNP Deputy Shadow Justice Minister Stewart Stevenson MSP today (Friday) condemned the Scottish Executive’s ‘staggering inability’ get to grips with Scotland’s illegal drugs trade.

Mr Stevenson was commenting after an answer to a parliamentary question he tabled revealed that, from 1999-2005, only £5.6 million in assets were seized from drug dealers in Scotland.

The answer to a further question also revealed that, despite the total value of Scotland’s drug trade being commonly accepted as between £3bn and £5 billion, the Executive “does not hold the information necessary to enable a reliable estimate [of the current value of the drugs trade] to be reached”.

Mr Stevenson said:

“These answers show the staggering inability of this Executive to get to grips with the drugs crisis gripping Scotland.

“This is a sorry indictment of the Executive’s justice strategy. It has been accepted in the Chamber that the value of Scotland's drug trade is between £3bn and £5bn, yet in the last six years, less than one per cent of this has been seized, massive sums of money are still flowing into dealers' pockets.

“If the Justice Minister really wants to say that crime doesn't pay then she should set targets that aim to dismantle the profit from drugs.

“This scourge of society must be contained and nullified, however this can only happen with data and facts and at present the Executive are operating in a knowledge vacuum. It is an absolute disgrace that the Justice Minister does not even have the tools to put a figure on the value of the illegal drugs trade.

“The Minister hasn’t got a clue when it comes to knowing how much money Scottish drug dealers are raking in. I therefore urge her to set up a commission to examine the worth of the illegal drug trade in Scotland.”

And, calling on Ms Jamieson to ensure additional support for the Scottish Drug Enforcement Agency (SDEA), Mr Stevenson added:

“The SDEA have taken a substantial amount of drugs off our streets. However, a note of caution must be raised as many people believe that the amount of drugs shipments seized only equates for ten per cent of the overall amount of drugs being shipped into the country.

“It is clear to me that the officers of the SDEA are dedicated to fighting the menace of Scotland’s drug dealers. However, the Minister needs to pin her colours to the mast by wholeheartedly supporting the SDEA.

“Real resources are needed so that the officers have the right tools to do their job. We need to hit the dealers where it hurts; in their pockets. The SDEA needs strong guidance and firm financial backing from the Justice Minister. The SNP is committed to this, but is Ms Jamieson?”

NOTE:

The full text of Mr Stevenson’s questions, and the answers, are given below:

3 November 2005
Stewart Stevenson (Banff and Buchan) (SNP): To ask the Scottish Executive what its estimate is of the current value of the drugs trade. (S2W-19763)
Cathy Jamieson: The Scottish Executive does not hold the information necessary to enable a reliable estimate to be reached.

1 November 2005
Stewart Stevenson (Banff and Buchan) (SNP): To ask the Scottish Executive what the most common assets recovered from drug dealers have been since 1999, showing the monetary value and broken down by (a) local authority area and (b) parliamentary constituency. (S2W-19762)
Colin Boyd, QC: Since April 1999, there have been 248 Confiscation Orders made in criminal cases where an accused person has been convicted of drugs offences. A Confiscation order is an order for payment of a sum of money by the accused.

The most common assets realised to make payment of Confiscation Orders are houses and flats, bank accounts, insurance policies and investments, motor vehicles and sums of cash seized by the police at the time of arrest for the original offence.

The monetary value of the Confiscation Orders made since 1999 is listed in the table below. The information is not held in the format requested, but is recorded by individual police force reporting the drugs case and is shown in that format:

Year (1 April to 31 March) /Number of Orders /Monetary value /Reporting Police Force

1999-2000 15 £807,283.13 Information not held
2000-2001 12 £117,284.75 Information not held
2001-2002 32 £532,812.96 Information not held
2002-2003 30 £560,248.89 Information not held

2003-2004
1 £1,500.00 Central Scotland Police
2 £18,205.47 Dumfries & Galloway Constabulary
1 £11,098.97 Fife Constabulary
5 £166,873.40 Grampian Police
8 £320,695.15 Lothian & Borders Police
5 £64,699.62 Northern Constabulary
7 £270,692.05 Scottish Drugs Enforcement Agency
22 £349,312.22 Strathclyde Police
2 £51,438.16 Tayside Police
Total for 2003-2004 53 Orders £1,254,515.04

2004-2005
1 £10,040.00 Central Scotland Police
2 £54,687.79 Dumfries & Galloway Constabulary
6 £104,831.44 Fife Constabulary
4 £319,059.58 Grampian Police
10 £107,916.84 Lothian & Borders Police
3 £17,545.84 Northern Constabulary
7 £187,174.55 Scottish Drugs Enforcement Agency
21 £383,420.23 Strathclyde Police
3 £37,029.80 Tayside Police
Total for 2004-2005 56 Orders £1,221,706.07

2005-2006 (Orders up to 20-10-05)
1 £10,000.00 Central Scotland Police
2 £17,300.00 Dumfries & Galloway Constabulary
3 £83,350.43 Fife Constabulary
6 £275,566.59 Grampian Police
9 £283,357.21 Lothian & Borders Police
3 £41,354.39 Northern Constabulary
3 £154,510.34 Scottish Drugs Enforcement Agency
20 £217,490.89 Strathclyde Police
2 £55,701.10 Tayside Police
Total to date for 2005-2006 49 Orders £1,138,630.95

Totals from
1999 – 2005
248 Orders £5,632,481.79

Property obtained through unlawful conduct can, without the need initially to secure a criminal conviction, be recovered by the Scottish Ministers through their powers of civil recovery under part 5 of the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002. Civil recovery does not proceed on the basis of a person having been convicted for a particular offence and it is not necessary for the Civil Recovery Unit to specify the particular unlawful conduct which gave rise to the acquisition of an asset.

I can, however, confirm that since part 5 of the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002 came into force, £988,581.99 has been realised through the powers of civil recovery. A further £1,800,854.61 has been forfeited to the Scottish Ministers through the cash seizure powers contained in the Act.
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