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Drug law offences (DLO)

The tables in this section monitor over time the numbers of ‘reports’ of drug law offences for each country that provided data. Tables include data from the EU Member States, Croatia, Turkey and Norway.

Summary points

  • On the basis of the data provided by 21 Member States, representing 85 % of the population aged 15–64 in the European Union, the number of reported drug law offences augmented by an estimated 35 % between 2003 and 2008 (see Figure DLO-1). The data reveal increasing trends in 15 reporting countries except Germany, Greece, Austria and Bulgaria, Italy, Croatia, which reported a stabilisation or an overall decline over the five-year period. See Table DLO-1 which gives, by country, a historical perspective of the development of the number of ‘reports’ for drug law offences between the years 1995 to 2008 (Table DLO-1 part (i) for the number of offences and Table DLO-1 part (ii) for the number of persons/cases). See also Table DLO-109 over a longer period (1985–2008).
  • In most European countries, the majority of reported offences were related to drug use or possession for use, with figures in 2008 ranging up to 92 % in Spain. However, in the Czech Republic (87 %) and the Netherlands (60 %) supply-related offences were predominant, see Table DLO-2 and Figure DLO-2, which gives for 2008 by country the percentage of offence type categorised by use, supply, or both use and supply.
  • Overall, the number of drug law offences related to use increased by an estimated 36 % between 2003 and 2008 in the European Union (see Figure DLO-1). Most reporting countries show an upward trend between 2003 and 2008 in the number of drug law offences related to use and only five countries (Bulgaria, Germany, Greece, Austria and Slovenia) show a decline. Cocaine use related offences had the largest increase with an estimated 80 % (see Figure DLO-4). It is also worth noting that, as a proportion of all drug law offences, use-related offences increased in 19 of the reporting countries during this period (see Table DLO-4), which gives, by country, the medium-term historical changes in the number of drug law offences that are related to use or possession for use and their proportion among all drug law offences.
  • Offences related to the supply of drugs also increased during the period 2003–08, but at a much lower pace, with an approximate increase of 10 % in the European Union (see Figure DLO-1). Over this period, the number of reporting countries showing a general decline in supply-related offences was eight, while nineteen show a general increase. See Table DLO-5 which gives, by country, the medium-term historical changes in the number of drug law offences that are related to supply and their proportion among all drug law offences.
  • In most European countries cannabis continued to be the illicit drug most often involved in reported drug law offences. See Table DLO-3 for a breakdown by substance of all reports for drug law offences, by country, in 2008.
  • In the five-year period 2003–08, the number of drug law offences involving cannabis increased in most reporting countries, resulting in an estimated increase of 29 % in the European Union (see Figure DLO-3). See Table DLO-6 which gives, by country, the medium-term historical changes in the number of drug law offences that are related to cannabis and their proportion among all drug law offences.
  • The downward trend in heroin-related offences in the European Union has been recently reverted and an increase of approximately 39 % has been observed for the period 2003–08 (see Figure DLO-3). National trends have been diverging and the new upward trend is mainly due to increases during the last three years. The number of heroin-related offences has increased in 16 reporting countries, while a decline was reported in Bulgaria, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands and Austria over the period. See Table DLO-7 which gives, by country, the medium-term historical changes in the number of drug law offences that are related to heroin and their proportion among all drug law offences.
  • Cocaine-related offences increased over the period 2003–08 in most reporting countries. The overall increase in the EU was approximately 45 % over the same period (see Figure DLO-3). See Table DLO-8 which gives, by country, the medium-term historical changes in the number of drug law offences that are related to cocaine and their proportion among all drug law offences.
  • While the EU trend for amphetamine-related offences remained upward, with an estimated increase of 24 %, between 2003 and 2008 (see Figure DLO-3), the trend in offences for ecstasy showed a decrease of an estimated 65 % over the same period.

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The European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction (EMCDDA) is the reference point on drugs and drug addiction information in Europe. Inaugurated in Lisbon in 1995, it is one of the EU's decentralised agencies. Read more >>

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Page last updated: Tuesday, 29 June 2010