Drug Use and Offending

Q8. Over the past 20 years, has there been a change in the drug offence rate reported by the police?

The drug offence rate decreased by 5.6% from 1980-2000, from 303 offences per 100,000 population in 1980 to 286 offences in 2000. The most recent rate however, represents a 9% increase from 1999.

Consistent decline over the years

Despite a 44% increase since 1993, the long term trend has shown a consistent decline in the drug offence rate from 1978 to 2000, with a high of 303 offences per 100,000 population in 1980 to a low of 198 offences per 100,000 population in 1993.

Decrease in possession drives the trend

The drug possession rate affected the overall drug offence rate. Possession decreased considerably (25%) between 1980 and 2000. It decreased by 35% in 1983 and kept decreasing to its low of 115 offences per 100,000 population in 1991. Since 1991 however, it increased by 55% to 178 drug possession offences per 100,000 population.

The trend over the past 20 years was slightly different for drug trafficking offences. It increased by 19% from 1980 to 2000. However, the fluctuations were not as drastic as drug possession offences (from 59 offences in 1980 to 79 offences in 1989). It has been in slow decline since 1991, going from 78 offences per 100,000 population to 70 in 2000.

For other drug offences (importation and cultivation), the rate has steadily increased over the past 20 years, from 5 offences per 100,000 population in 1980 to 38 offences in 2000.

Figure 3 : Drug Offence Rate by Drug Offence Type (per 100,000 population) Canada, 1978-2000

Figure 3 : Drug Offence Rate by Drug Offence Type (per 100,000 population) Canada, 1978-2000

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Source: Uniform Crime Reporting Survey, Canadian Centre for Justice Statistics.

As violent and property offence rates decrease, drug offence rates increase

A correlation analysis was done to determine the influence of other offence types on the overall drug trend. The results obtained were statistically significant, meaning that there is a negative correlation between police reports of violent or property offences and police reports of drug offences, that is, drug offence rates increase with the decrease of violent offence rates, and vice versa. The correlation coefficient was -0.49697, out of maximum of 1.0. More specifically, from 1980 to 2000, violent offence rates slowly increased from 636 per 100,000 population to a peak of 1,084 per 100,000 population in 1992 only to decrease consistently until the last year to a rate of 982 per 100,000 population. During that same period, drug offence rates decreased from 303 offences per 100,000 population to a low of 198 per 100,000 population in 1993, only to increase significantly since to 286 drug offences per 100,000 population in the year 2000.

Figure 4: Violent and Drug Offence Rate (per 100,000 population) Canada, 1980-2000

Figure 4: Violent and Drug Offence Rate (per 100,000 population) Canada, 1980-2000

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Source : Uniform Crime Reporting Survey, Canadian Centre for Justice Statistics.

Similarly, property offence rates were also negatively correlated with the drug offence rate during that same period. The correlation coefficient was -0.32601, out of a maximum of 1.0. More specifically, property offence rates increased from 5,444 offences per 100,000 population in 1980 to a high of 6,160 offences per 100,000 population in 1991, only to decrease to a low of 4,070 offences per 100,000 population in the year 2000.

Figure 5: Property and Drug Offence Rate (per 100,000 population) Canada, 1980-2000

Figure 5: Property and Drug Offence Rate (per 100,000 population) Canada, 1980-2000

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Source : Uniform Crime Reporting Survey, Canadian Centre for Justice Statistics.

Cannabis Rates follow Overall Trend Rate

Cannabis offence rate affected the overall drug offence rate as seen in the figure below. The cannabis offence rate is 19% lower in 2000 compared to 1980. It decreased drastically between 1980 and 1983 (-35%) and kept decreasing to its low of 119 offences per 100,000 population in 1991. Since 1991 however, it increased considerably to 215 drug possession offences per 100,000 population in 2000 (+81%).

Figure 6 : Total Drug Offence and Cannabis Offence Rates (per 100,000 population) Canada 1980-2000

Figure 6 : Total Drug Offence and Cannabis Offence Rates (per 100,000 population) Canada 1980-2000

[Description]

Source: Uniform Crime Reporting Survey, Canadian Centre for Justice Statistics.

For other drug types, cocaine and other drugs followed similar patterns, where those offence types increased considerably from 1980 to 1989 (cocaine rate in 1989 was almost 8 times higher than 1980 - for other drugs, the rate was 3 times higher), only to decrease slowly up until 2000. The rate reported in 2000 was however, six times higher than 1980 for cocaine, and almost 3 times higher for other drugs.

Heroin rates remained fairly consistent through the 20- year period examined while controlled/restricted drug offences decreased 95% from 19 per 100,000 population in 1980 to 1 per 100,000 population in 2000.

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