DrugScope Policy Briefing Drugs and crime Policy Public affairs by rnw68547


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									DrugScope Policy Briefing:
Drugs and crime
                                                                 Policy & Public affairs
                                                                       Dec 2005

In recent years there has been a strong shift towards a criminal justice-based
approach to the UK’s drug problems. When surveyed, the majority of the
DrugScope membership said they felt that the criminal justice aspects of
substance use had come to dominate policy at the expense of the health
agenda, with detrimental effects for drug treatment and harm reduction efforts.


 •   Drug offences account for 2.6% of police recorded crime (Crime in
     England and Wales 2004 / 2005, Home Office)
 •   The most common offence was unlawful possession 85% (Drug
     Offenders in England and Wales, Home Office, 2004)
 •   It has recently been estimated that there are 14,000 untreated drug
     users in jail at any one time (Drugs and crime: from warfare to welfare, Nacro,
 •   For every £1 spent on treatment, £3 is saved in costs of crime (The
     National Treatment Outcome Research Study, [NTORS], 2001)
 •   59% of prisoners discharged in 1998 were reconvicted within 2 years.
     Rates over the same period for offenders completing a DTTO are 53%
     (however 67% fail to complete) (Home Office Findings 184, The impact of Drug
     Treatment and Testing Orders of offending: two-year reconviction rates, 2003)

DrugScope’s position

 •  A small minority of drug users are responsible for large amounts of
    acquisitive crime, but the overwhelming majority of illicit drug users do not
    commit criminal offences (beyond their drug usage).
 • The relationship between drugs and crime is complex. Even amongst
    chronic dependent users, crime tends to pre-date drug problems
 • There is a danger of creating a situation in which the easiest way to access
    drug treatment is via the police and courts and a corresponding impression
    that all problem drug users are criminals, rather than people who are often
    experiencing serious mental health and/or social problems.
 • DrugScope believes that criminal proceedings should not normally be
    initiated for the possession of small quantities of any scheduled drug for
    personal use, or for the cultivation of small quantities of cannabis.
 • A substantial number of problem drug users who commit minor offences
    pose no serious threat to the public. DrugScope would like to see this
    group diverted from the criminal court system in the first instance
 • Community sentences requiring offenders to confront their drug problems
    provide a good alternative to custody. But it is important not to impose
    unrealistically stringent conditions on chaotic drug users, setting them up
    to fail with the consequence that they breach the conditions on Justice,
Further information: DrugScope’s response to the consultation of their
    community sentences
Security and Community and end up in prison.

Last updated 12/05
Further information: DS response to the consultation on Justice,
Security and Community

Last updated 12/05

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