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Assessing UK Drug Policy from a Crime Control Perspective.

Reuter, Peter, Stevens, Alex (2008) Assessing UK Drug Policy from a Crime Control Perspective. Criminology and Criminal Justice, 8 (4). pp. 461-482. ISSN 1748–8958. (doi:10.1177/1748895808096473) (KAR id:13333)

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Over the entire last quarter of the 20th century the British drug problem worsened, despite the implementation of a variety of approaches and commitment of substantial criminal justice and other resources. The link between chronic use of expensive drugs and property crime makes this experience important for understanding trends in crime

and justice in Britain. The worsening of the problem can be seen in the growing number of new heroin users each year over almost the entire period 1975–2000, on top of which was layered, starting in the late 1990s, the first major outbreak of chronic cocaine use. This was not the common pattern in Western Europe over that time and by

2000 the UK had Western Europe’s most serious drug problem.

The response initially took the form of increasing enforcement against drug markets; in just the decade 1994–2005 the number of prison cell years handed out in annual sentences has tripled. Even with this expansion we estimate that the annual probability of incarceration for a class A drug dealer is only approximately 6 per cent.

Since 2000 there has also been a massive increase in treatment resources linked to the criminal justice system. The number of treatment assessments in recent years has been as large as 58 per cent of the number of persons estimated to be problematic users of Class A drugs. The government believes that drug policy has contributed to

the decline in crime in the UK since 2000. Using what is known about treatment outcomes, we argue that despite impressive evidence of effect on individual level offending, the effect of treatment expansion in reducing overall crime rates is likely to have been limited.

Item Type: Article
DOI/Identification number: 10.1177/1748895808096473
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HV Social pathology. Social and public welfare
Divisions: Divisions > Division for the Study of Law, Society and Social Justice > School of Social Policy, Sociology and Social Research
Depositing User: Alex Stevens
Date Deposited: 17 Apr 2009 14:21 UTC
Last Modified: 16 Nov 2021 09:51 UTC
Resource URI: (The current URI for this page, for reference purposes)

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