An altered state? Emergent changes to illicit drug markets and distribution networks in Scotland

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaper


In recent decades, considerable effort has been undertaken to construct an overview of various aspects of illicit drug distribution in Britain. Yet given that national, regional, and local differences can be profound, this has proven difficult, to the extent that Scotland has been largely excluded from the conversation. In addition, the level of supply being examined, the drug type, and actors involved only adds to confusion and vast differences between some findings. The current study provides a more holistic account, as best as possible considering variations of illegal drug supply in illicit networks, by focusing in on a particular geographical context (Scotland) and addressing drug supply by classification level. It is informed by in-depth interviews with 5 practitioners, and 42 (ex) offenders involved in drug distribution from international to national/regional to local levels. Findings indicate Scotland’s importation and distribution is evolving owing to increasingly adaptive Risk Mitigation by importers and distributors and (b) market diversification of both product and demand. While a hierarchical model still dominates the market, the increasing demand not only for Class C drugs such as cannabis but also for anabolic steroids and psychoactive substances means that home growing, online purchasing, and street-level dealership is common. The findings have the capacity to further inform law enforcement and wider practitioners about the diverse and evolving nature of drug distribution in Scotland (with a particular focus on the west of the country), and to become more effective in improving the safety and wellbeing of people, places and communities.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 3 Jul 2018
EventBritish Society of Criminology Annual Conference 2018 - Birmingham, United Kingdom
Duration: 3 Jul 20186 Jul 2018 (Conference website.)


ConferenceBritish Society of Criminology Annual Conference 2018
Country/TerritoryUnited Kingdom
Internet address


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