•Seizures of Class A drugs increased by 13% between 2017/18 and 2018/19, from 29,090 to32,753 seizures. Cocaine was the most commonly seized Class A drug, with 52% of all Class A seizures involving this substance in 2018/19.
•There were 17,038 seizures of cocaine in 2018/19, up 12% on the previous year (15,250 seizures). The quantity of cocaine seized also increased from 3,338 kilograms in 2017/18 to9,645 kilograms in 2018/19, an increase of 6,307 kg. This is the largest quantity of cocaine seized since recording began in 1973.
•The quantity of ecstasy seized increased from 0.7 million doses in 2017/18 to 2.2 million doses in 2018/19. This was the highest quantity seized since 2006/07 (6.6 million).
•There were 54,070 doses of LSD seized in 2018/19, the highest since 2005 when 1,137,000 doses were recorded, and an increase on the previous year (3,351 doses).
•Seizures of crack by police forces increased by 20%, from 5,443 in 2017/18 to 6,556 in 2018/19,the highest number of seizures since 2008/09. The quantity of crack seized by police forces increased by 73%, from 36 kilograms in 2017/18 to 63 kilograms in 2018/19, the highest amount seized since 2004.
•There were 22 seizures of fentanyl and 8 seizures of fentanyl analogues by police forces and Border Force in 2018/19.
Crown Court statistics are not totally transparent on class A drug offences as they are often disposed off alongside other serious offences. However where possession of class A drugs is the principal offence it appears that in England and Wales latest annual figures are 11,610 defendants and a conviction rate of 93%. It seems that there were an additional four and a half thousand offences of a similar nature.
All the above is background information. Last week a defendant appeared at Exeter Magistrates' Court where he pleaded guilty to assaulting an emergency worker. His early guilty plea was taken into consideration and he was jailed for 26 weeks and ordered to pay the officer £100 in compensation. In addition,he pleaded guilty to possession of diamorphine - heroin, possession of cocaine and possession of cannabis. Magistrates ordered no separate penalty for these offences. [my bold]. The original press report can be accessed here.
The bench of course proceeded directly as per Sentencing Guidelines. However it is my long held opinion that "no separate penalty" in a case such as described above is a travesty. More than that it is a disgrace to the concept of justice. The report tells us nothing about this offender`s previous convictions but it is not unlikely that he was not of good character. If class A drug possession was the principal charge at crown court I doubt he would have been treated so lightly. But the rule is if one matter is summary so are those added. There surely must be a case for a complete re-think by the Sentencing Council on the principle of "no separate penalty".