BBC Scotland accused of misrepresenting drug study in order to ‘deceive and panic’

BBC Scotland has been accused of either misunderstanding or deliberately misrepresenting an academic study in order to push sensational falsehoods about drug use in Scotland.

The accusation follows claims by the broadcaster that Scottish drug users consume more cocaine in a session than anywhere else in the world.

A BBC Scotland online article stated: “Drug users in Scotland consume the most cocaine in a single session, according to a worldwide survey of drug-taking habits. The 2018 Global Drug Survey looked at the recreational drug use of 130,000 people across 44 countries. In Scotland the amount of the drug consumed per session was more than double the global average. Researchers, who quizzed 15,000 cocaine users, said the drug can be delivered ‘more quickly than a pizza’ in Glasgow.”


The claims were repeated in broadcasts on TV and Radio with the public being told that cocaine use in Scotland was more than double the global average.  Former addicts gave testimony and appeared eager to confirm the claims.

However it has now emerged that the researchers warned that the study should not be used to determine the extent of drug use amongst a population.

In the published report, the authors write: “Participation is voluntary. Our survey is not a general population survey and should not be used to determine the prevalence of drug use within a population.”

BBC Scotland’s reporting of the study was savaged by a former academic who accused the broadcaster of trying to deceive and panic the public.

Writing on his blog, John Robertson said: “With regard to the BBC’s claim that ‘the amount of the drug consumed per session was more than double the global average’, this is not reliable because we don’t know how many Scots responded as a percentage of the overall population, we do not know how representative they are of the overall drug-taking population, we do not know if they had a tendency to ‘brag’ about doses or whether they were telling the truth and we don’t know how pure the doses are in different countries.”

The academic added: “By ignoring the reservations declared by GDS on page three and then using certain language such as Drug users in Scotland consume the most cocaine and In Scotland the amount of the drug consumed per session was more than double the global average, BBC Scotland are effectively using lies to deceive and to panic their audience.”

Robertson, a former Professor at the University of the West of Scotland, also questioned BBC Scotland’s claim that researchers had “quizzed 15,000 cocaine users” and revealed that the so-called ‘research’ consisted of participants completing an anonymous online survey.

BBC Scotland’s claim that Scots cocaine use is the worst in the world comes a day after the broadcaster promoted a controversial view by authors of a book that Scotland’s reputation as a welcoming country was a myth.

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10 thoughts on “BBC Scotland accused of misrepresenting drug study in order to ‘deceive and panic’

  1. Davy

    That’s certainly not a surprise.

    Scotland the most “media” misrepresented country in the world.

  2. Independent Woman

    I’ve submitted a complaint to the BBC (yawn) and await their reply with bated breath. If you can be bothered with the convoluted complaint procedure I would urge everyone to do the same. Let the BBC know they aren’t fooling all the people any of the time.

  3. Pingback: Time for this S*** to end | Grumpy Scottish Man

  4. Brian McGowan

    Scotland and the SNP are fair game. The MSM know that they can report in this devious maner with impunity. No one stands up for Scotland except social media.
    Why do the SNP stand by and let it happen?
    You tell me.

    1. Ann Christie

      Probably because they would end up spending every day fire fighting instead of getting on with the day job! Let’s face it, it’s not just one piece of misinformation or media manipulation per day it’s several, all designed to fire up the BritNat faithful who then do the fighting on social media and news fora. Look at last week’s Baby Box Scandal nonsense – started with Miles Briggs in FMQs, repeated on BBC. FMQ roundup, then the news, then social media was full of it! And it’s still running! I can’t see how the SNP could keep up with it. They challenge when they can, like Ms Sturgeon’s effective takedown of Briggs, the demand that The Mail et al recant their articles about the Royal Standard and the union flag, nut think of the energy required to keep doing that several times a day.

      1. Brian McGowan

        Hello Ann – I take your point, but I’m not convinced that it shouldn’t be done because it’s too much bother. And that’s exactly why the MSM continue in this manner… they know they won’t be challenged, in the vast majority of cases.
        The two examples you gave will only have been seen if you watch FMQs or read tiny apologies buried inside the paper. It’s the headlines that do the damage.

        What is your alternative?

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