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Sentencing Outcomes

The sentence one might expect from a drugs offence will depend on the offence and drug involved, the quantity or value of drug involved, and a variety of other factors including guilty or not guilty pleas, mitigating or aggravating circumstances etc. There are also wide regional variations in the treatment of drugs offenders.

The Home Office publishes annual statistics on the disposal of drugs cases. These take no account of the quantity involved, or (for the breakdowns listed) the amount of fines or lengths of prison sentences.

"Other non-custodial" includes probation, community service orders, suspended sentences, and other options such as mandatory treatment or rehabilitation as a condition of staying out of prison. Cautions include compounding (on the spot fines for small "personal" quantities of drugs seized by Customs), and fiscal fines (a relatively new administrative penalty introduced in Scotland). The percentages of each outcome as a proportion of cases for each offence is shown for each of the most commonly-used illegal drugs below.

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