Understanding Drugs, Alcohol and Crime

By Trevor Bennett; Katy Holloway | Go to book overview

chapter seven
The causal connection:
more than coincidence?

Introduction

'Age-of-onset'

Studies

'Changes-over-time' studies

Qualitative research

Conclusion

Further reading


Introduction
It was shown in the previous chapter that drug use and crime were often found together. Drug users (especially those who consumed heroin or crack) were also likely to commit crimes and offenders (especially those who committed shoplifting, general theft and drug supply offences) were also likely to consume drugs. However, this does not mean that the two are necessarily causally connected. They might be found together because they are both caused by other factors or co-exist within a nexus of problematic behaviours. This chapter examines the extent to which drug use causes crime or crime causes drug use.The causal connection between drug use and crime has been investigated in the research literature in three main ways:
'age-of-onset' studies that investigate whether drug use preceded crime or crime preceded drug use in time;
'changes-over-time' studies that investigate the relationship between changes in involvement in drug use on crime and changes in involvement in crime on drug use; and
'qualitative' studies that investigate the causal connection by asking drug users and offenders their views on whether the two are connected.

The results presented below draw on our own systematic review of the literature on the causal connection between drug use and crime (Holloway and Bennett in prep.).

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