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Weighing up crime: the over estimation of drug-related crime

Stevens, Alex (2008) Weighing up crime: the over estimation of drug-related crime. Contemporary Drug Problems, 35 (2/3). pp. 265-290. ISSN 0091-4509. (doi:10.1177/009145090803500205) (KAR id:29875)


Background: It is generally accepted that harms from crime cause a very large part of the total social harm that can be attributed to drug use. For example, crime harms accounted for 70% of the weighting of the British Drug Harm Index in 2004. This paper explores the linkage of criminal harm to drug use and challenges the current overestimation of the proportion of crime that can be causally attributed to drug use. It particularly examines the use of data from arrested drug users to estimate the quantity of drug-related crime.

Method: Multivariate, secondary analysis of data from the British Offending, Crime and Justice Survey is used to test the hypothesis that drug users are over-represented in arrest data, compared to other offenders.

Results: It is found in logistic regression that the strongest predictor of arrest was not the frequency or type of offending, but whether an offender was in work or education. Offenders who have used illicit drugs were over two times as likely to be arrested as those who did not, even taking employment status and the type and frequency of offending into account.

Conclusion: Current methods for estimating drug-related crime endanger the validity of measurements of drug-related harm, with damaging consequences for the analysis of drug policy and the stigmatisation of drug users.

Item Type: Article
DOI/Identification number: 10.1177/009145090803500205
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HV Social pathology. Social and public welfare
H Social Sciences > HV Social pathology. Social and public welfare > HV5800 Drug habits and abuse
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: 16 Jul 2012 15:18 UTC
Last Modified: 09 Mar 2023 11:32 UTC
Resource URI: (The current URI for this page, for reference purposes)

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