The nature of the problem
The nature of the problems of drug misuse
The nature of the drugs–crime connection
The nature of the book
This book is about the relationship between drug misuse and crime. It is prompted by the idea that drug use might actually cause crime. If drug use did cause crime, then one way of tackling crime might be to tackle drug use. However, until we know the facts of the relationship, we cannot know whether there is any meaningful link between the two. It might be the case that crime causes drug use or something else causes both of them.
The book is primarily a review of the research literature on drug misuse and crime. In particular, it focuses on research on the statistical association and causal connection between drug misuse and criminal behaviour. However, it also looks at the main theories that have attempted to explain the relationship. To provide a context for the discussion, the book investigates a number of related issues, including the extent of drug misuse, the way in which drug misuse has changed over time, the effects of drugs on perceptions and behaviour, and the ways in which drugs are misused by drug users.
The focus of the book is on the relation between drugs and crime rather than alcohol and crime, but in most discussions some information on alcohol misuse also will be included. The book focuses on what is happening in the UK rather than elsewhere, although developments in other countries are considered when appropriate.
This aim of this introductory chapter is to consider those issues that need to be covered before one can make sense of the chapters that follow. The first section looks at a few definitions that are often confused or