Profile and Projection of Drug Offences
Highlights for Yukon
- In 1998, there were 39 adults charged by the police with a drug offence, accounting for 0.1% of Canada, same as its population share of 0.1%.
- From 1977 to 1998, the number of adults charged with a drug offence decreased by 77% from 167 adults charged in 1977 to 39 adults charged in 1998. However, the trend has been fluctuating in the last few years. - In terms of types of drugs, the number of adults charged with a cannabis offence has decreased significantly when comparing 1977 to 1998 data. Cocaine offences were fairly consistent over the year, with exceptions of sharp increases in 1985, 1993 and 1997. The number of adults charged with miscellaneous drug offences has been on a downward trend from 1977 until 1998 while there were very few heroin offences.
- In terms of nature of offence, drug possession and drug trafficking each accounted for 41% of all adults charged with drug offence in 1998. The remaining 18% involve cultivation and importation of drugs. The proportion of drug trafficking has fluctuated over the 20 year period examined.
- A comparison between the number of adults charged with drug offences and the number of drug cases handled in Yukon provincial criminal courts reveals that for every 100 adults charged, more than 100 cases end up in courts. The reason is because some court cases may arise from charges by the police from the previous year. The small total number of cases also contribute to the wide fluctuations.
- Based on the extrapolation method of projection selected, the number of adults charged with drug offences will increase from 39 in 1998 to 70 in 2003 in the next five years.
In September 1996, the Agent Affairs Unit of the Criminal Law Branch within the Department of Justice requested the Research and Statistics Division to analyze the level of drug offences in the past and to make future projections. The purpose was to provide information to facilitate discussions relating to volume and case management of drug cases.
This is an update of that project. There are two products in the project: a national report and a series of jurisdictional reports. The reports provide information on historical profile of the trend of drug offences in the past 20 years plus a five-year projection of the trend into the future.
The profiles and projections were based on police reported data collected by the Canadian Centre for Justice Statistics. The period of data used was from 1977 to 1998, the latest data available.
As the objective is to produce indicators of workload in drug prosecutions, data on the number of adults formally charged by the police are used. These data were collected by the Uniform Crime Reporting Survey (UCR) which represents the crime data of every police force in Canada. The data from this survey are the most current and reliable data on drug offences that are available in Canada today. [At the request of the Agent Affairs Unit, the number of drug offences here include only those under the Narcotic Control Act (NCA), excluding those under the Food and Drugs Act (FDA).]
In addition to police data, we also look at some data from provincial criminal courts as collected by the Adult Criminal Court Survey (ACCS). However, the data are at the present incomplete, with data from 9 jurisdictions representing 80% of the national total number of cases. Data from Yukon, Yukon and New Brunswick are not yet available.
Profile of Historical Trends (Figures 1-2, Appendices 1-2)
Police data from the UCR are broken down by the types of drugs, including heroin, cocaine, cannabis, and miscellaneous drugs. Data are also broken down by nature of offence, including possession, trafficking, importation, and cultivation.
In terms of types of drugs, number of adults charged in Yukon with cannabis offences accounted for 79% of all drug offences in 1998, followed by cocaine (18%). The remaining 3% were for miscellaneous narcotics and heroin.
Practically no adults were charged with heroin offences during the 20 year period examined.
Cocaine offences remained fairly stable during the late 1970s to the mid-1980s (less than 7 adults charged). The first sharp increase occurred in 1985 where there were 3 times more adults charged in 1985 (17) than in 1984 (5). The second sharp increase occurred in 1993 where 17 adults were charged with a cocaine offence compared to 11 the previous year. Finally, the third sharp increase occurred in 1997 where there were almost 6 times more adults charged that year (32) compared to the previous year (6).
Cannabis offences have decreased starting from the 1970s, experiencing small fluctuations throughout the period. In 1998, 31 adults were charged with a cannabis offence compared to 150 in 1977 (-79%).
Miscellaneous drug offences have experienced a sharp decrease in 1978, where 5 adults where charged compared to 11 during the previous year. From that year on, the number of adults charged with a miscellaneous drug offence has remained under 5 adults.
In terms of nature of offence, both drug possession and drug trafficking accounted for 41% (each) of all adults charged with drug offences in 1998; cultivation of cannabis accounted for 18%. There were no adults charged with drug importation offences in 1998.
The number of adults charged with drug possession has decreased in the late 1970s to early 1980s only to increase 68% in 1983 (from 62 adults charged in 1979 to 104 in 1980). Since 1981, it has fluctuated consistently over the years, to a low of 16 adults charged in 1998. This represented an 88% decrease from 1977 (133 adults charged).
In contrast, the number of adults charged with trafficking has remained fairly consistent, with slight fluctuations in the 20 year period examined. As a whole, there was a 38% decrease, with 26 adults charged in 1977 compared to 16 adults in 1998.
The number of adults charged with a cultivation offence has remained fairly low and stable from the late 1970s to the mid-1990s (less than 5 adults accused). The only sharp increase was reported in 1995 were 13 adults were charged compared to 3 the previous year. It has been on a downward trend since that year.
As a whole, the total number of adults charged with drug offences in Yukon decreased from 167
in the late 1970s to 39 in 1998. The trend has generally been fluctuating in the last few years. It should be noted that the trend of reported drug offences may or may not reflect the level of usage of drugs as the level depends largely on the level of enforcement by the police.
Comparison between Police Data and Courts Data
The assumption in comparing the number of adults charged by the police and the number of cases handled by provincial criminal courts is that a small proportion of the offenders charged may not actually appear before the courts for various reasons such as diversion. If this is the case, then the number of drug cases in courts should be slightly below the number of adults charged.
Two years of provincial criminal court data were used in the comparison (1996/97 and 1997/98). For the two years, there were a total of 166 persons charged by the police in Yukon while there were 226 cases handled by Yukon provincial criminal courts. The ratio between the two numbers was 1.36, compared to 0.85 for Canada as a whole. The conclusion is that for every 100 adults charged by the police in Yukon the average number of court cases is about 136, compared to 85 in Canada. Note that the number can be higher than 1 because the time of appearance before the courts is not the same as the time of charging by the police and some cases handled by the courts may have been cases charged by the police in previous year.
Methods of Projection
The statistical method chosen in the following projection is called Holt’s two parameter exponential smoothing extrapolation projection. The method is to define the ongoing trend of drug offences for those years where we have actual data, that is, from 1977 to 1998, and to project the trend into the future for 1999 to 2003. The method involves the calculation of moving averages of historical data. While this method uses all data points in the past, it puts most weight on the most recent preceding years. Therefore, what has been occurring in drug offences for the past several years (for example, 1994 to 1998) will weigh heavily on the outcome of the projected trend for the future.
Results of the Projection (Figure 3, Appendix 3)
While the analysis of historical data includes separate profiles based on types of drugs and nature of offence, the projection is only done for overall total number only because small numbers after the breakdown in many of the jurisdictions.
The result of the extrapolation projection shows that the number of adults charged by the police in Yukon will increase in the next five years. The total increase after 5 years is estimated to be from 39 adults charged in 1998 to 70 in 2003 (+79%).
Source: Uniform Crime Reporting Survey (UCR), Canadian Centre for Justice Statistics.
Source: Uniform Crime Reporting Survey (UCR), Canadian Centre for Justice Statistics.
Projections prepared by Research and Statistics Division, Department of Justice Canada.
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