CRIME statistics released earlier this week suggest that Scotland has twice as many drug dealers as the rest of the UK.

There were 4727 charges for the illegal importation of drugs, illegal cultivation of drugs and possession of drugs with intent to supply in Scotland last year – the equivalent of roughly 0.087% of the Scottish population.

Figures covering the same time period in England and Wales found 26,585 traffickers in a population of 58,744,600 – roughly 0.045%.

The stark difference was first noticed by Dr Iain McPhee from University of West Scotland’s School of Media, Culture and Society, back in 2007.

He said Police Scotland's "STOP unit" of serving and fomer drug squad officers, were responsible for the divergence. 

McPhee argues that their testimony effectively means that a smaller amount of drugs can be regarded as being for onward supply north than it does down south.

Detective Chief Superintendent Gerry Mclean from Police Scotland told the Sunday National that forces in England, Wales and Northern Ireland were operating “under a different legal framework”.

He added: “The difference in the volume of drug supply prosecutions in Scotland compared to the rest of the UK is likely to be due to a number of influences.

“Only a small number of UK police forces have the equivalent of dedicated STOP units and established methods of gathering drug trend expertise.

“STOP units continually take cognisance of legal case law and any valid external factors to ensure they continue to deliver a professional standard of written report and verbal evidence.”

The Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal service told the Sunday National that the decision to prosecute for supply rather than possession, is not necessarily limited to the quantity of drugs found on a person.

A spokesman said: “The Procurator Fiscal deals with every case on its own individual facts and circumstances and will take action where there is sufficient evidence and it is in the public interest to do so.”