Home > CSO report - illicit drug market statistics.

Connolly, Johnny and Forde, Caroline (2008) CSO report - illicit drug market statistics. Drugnet Ireland, Issue 26, Summer 2008, pp. 16-17.

PDF (Drugnet Ireland, issue 26) - Published Version

The report, Garda recorded crime statistics 2003–2006, published by the Central Statistics Office (CSO) in April provides data which can assist us in understanding aspects of the operation of the illicit drug market in Ireland.1 With regard to the so-called middle market level, which involves the importation and internal distribution of drugs, data on drug supply offence prosecutions by Garda division are a possible indicator of national drug distribution patterns.2 While these data primarily reflect law enforcement activities and the relative ease of detection of different drugs, they may also provide an indicator of national drug distribution trends. This data can be compared with drug treatment data, to show us whether the heroin trade is growing outside the Dublin region for example (see p. 2 of this issue). Such data can also provide an indicator of trafficking patterns by showing, for example, whether there is a concentration of prosecutions along specific routes. Figure 1 shows the number of relevant legal proceedings for drug supply offences by Garda region outside the Dublin Metropolitan Region (DMR).3

  Figure 1   Drug supply (s.15 MDA) offences outside the Dublin Metropolitan Region in which relevant legal proceedings commenced, 2003–2006
Source: CSO (2008)
The upward trend since 2004 in relevant legal proceedings for drug supply continued in 2006 (Figures 1 and 2). Although the majority of such proceedings still take place in the DMR, the proportion of the total number which take place outside the DMR has increased since 2004 (Figure 2). 
Figure 2   Trends in total number of relevant legal proceedings for supply offences and those in the Dublin Metropolitan Region, 2003–2006
Source: CSO (2008)
The number of drug seizures in any given period can be affected by such factors as law enforcement resources, strategies and priorities, and by the vulnerability of traffickers to law enforcement activities. However, drug seizures are considered as indirect indicators of the supply and availability of drugs.
Cannabis seizures account for the majority of all drugs seized. Of the 8,417 reported drug seizures in 2006, 4,243 (50.4%) were cannabis-related. Figure 3 shows trends in seizures for a selection of drugs, excluding cannabis, between 2003 and 2006. We can see a continuous steady rise in cocaine seizures since 2003. Heroin seizures rose sharply during 2006, increasing from 763 in 2005 to 1,254 in 2006. The number of seizures of ecstasy-type substances also rose in 2006, following a steady decline since 2003. 
Figure 3   Trends in the number of seizures of selected drugs, excluding cannabis, 2003–2006
Source: CSO (2008)
[For clearer images of the figures please see the PDF version]
1. Central Statistics Office (2008) Garda recorded crime statistics 2003–2006. Dublin: Stationery Office.
2. Connolly J (2005) The illicit drug market in Ireland. Overview 2. Dublin: Health Research Board. See also Connolly J (2007) Drug-crime statistics. Drugnet Ireland, Issue 23: 16–18.
3. The report uses the term ‘relevant proceedings’ which refers to the legal proceedings, such as prosecution, taken in relation to the offence as it was originally recorded in the PULSE system. 
Item Type
Publication Type
Irish-related, Open Access, Article
Drug Type
Substances (not alcohol/tobacco)
Intervention Type
Crime prevention
Issue Title
Issue 26, Summer 2008
Page Range
pp. 16-17
Health Research Board
Issue 26, Summer 2008
Accession Number
HRB (Available)

Repository Staff Only: item control page