Understanding Drugs, Alcohol and Crime

By Trevor Bennett; Katy Holloway | Go to book overview

Preface

It is widely believed that drug use causes crime. One of the main aims of the current UK drug strategy is to reduce crime by reducing the availability and use of illicit substances (Home Office 2002). However, it is not at all certain whether there is such a connection between drug use and crime. It is possible that the two are not connected at all or even that the two are connected in a direction opposite to that hypothesized and that drug use causes less crime. This might occur when drugs impair the functioning or de-motivate the individual. While it might appear intuitively obvious that drug use causes more crime, it might not be the case in practice. It is important to take a critical view and to find out what the research actually says on this subject. The aim of this book is to do just that and to look at the research literature as a whole to determine whether the view that drug use causes crime is correct.

The book has been inspired in part by two large research projects that the authors have recently completed for the Home Office on the connection between drug use and crime. The first project was the NEW-ADAM (New English and Welsh Arrestee Drug Abuse Monitoring) programme, which aimed to look at drug use and crime among samples of arrestees (see, among others, Holloway and Bennett 2004). This study was based on interviews with and urine samples collected from arrestees held in police custody suites. The research was conducted in 16 locations in England and Wales and sought to determine the extent to which arrestees (most of whom were current offenders) were involved in drug use. The second project was a systematic review of the literature in two areas of research relevant to the 'drugs–crime' connection. One of the reviews aimed to investigate the strength and nature of the link between drug use and crime. The other review aimed to investigate the effectiveness of interventions that might (among other things) reduce criminal behaviour among drug users. The book draws heavily on our knowledge generated as part of conducting these reviews. However, we have not presented the findings of

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