About this release

This release by Public Health Scotland (PHS) provides the Scottish Public Health Observatory (ScotPHO) quarterly update on a number of topic areas. Of these topics, the drugs and allergic conditions pages contain new data.

Main points

Drugs - Social Harm:

  • In 2020/21, there were 2,094 people convicted in cases where a drug offence was the main charge. Of these convictions, 54% were for class A drugs (e.g. cocaine, ecstasy, heroin), 32% for class B drugs (e.g. amphetamines, cannabis) and 9% for class C drugs (e.g. anabolic steroids, diazepam, GHB). For the remaining 5% of convictions the drug type was unknown.
  • The number of people convicted was less than in 2019/20 (4,430 people convicted), however the class of drug attributed to each conviction was roughly the same. The decrease in the number of convictions observed between 2019/20 and 2020/21 was also seen in other offence categories and was likely to be associated with the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • For people convicted of possession with intent to supply, the use of community sentences has gradually increased over time from one third (32%) of convictions in 2011/12 to almost half (49%) in 2020/21, while the use of custodial sentences (any length) decreased from 57% in 2011/12 to 37% in 2020/21. The most common sentence for possession was a financial penalty (48%).

Allergic Conditions:

  • In 2020/21, 93 people per 100,000 were hospitalised for an allergy-related illness at least once during the year, compared to 163 people per 100,000 in 2019/20.  This sharp decrease is a consequence of the COVID-19 pandemic. The pandemic caused a large disruption to healthcare services, having an impact on individuals’ health and their use of healthcare services. Therefore, this data should be interpreted with caution.
  • Asthma continues to be the most common allergic condition, accounting for 69% of the approximately 5,100 allergy-related hospital admissions from 2020/21.


The Scottish Public Health Observatory (external website) collaboration is led by PHS and includes the Glasgow Centre for Population Health, National Records of Scotland, the Medical Research Council/Chief Scientist Office Social and Public Health Sciences Unit and the Scottish Learning Disabilities Observatory.

The aim of the collaboration is to make public health information more accessible, to promote the reduction in inequalities and to inform health improvement in Scotland.

Further information

Data from this publication are available from the publication page on the ScotPHO website (external website).

The next release of this publication will be 20 December 2022.

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Older versions of this publication

Versions of this publication released before 16 March 2020 may be found on the Data and Intelligence, Health Protection Scotland or Improving Health websites.

Last updated: 07 October 2022
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