Measuring the Effectiveness of Drug Law Enforcement

By Willis, Katie; Anderson, Jessica et al. | Trends & Issues in Crime and Criminal Justice, February 2011 | Go to article overview

Measuring the Effectiveness of Drug Law Enforcement


Willis, Katie, Anderson, Jessica, Homel, Peter, Trends & Issues in Crime and Criminal Justice


Foreword | Seizing drugs and arresting those who import, manufacture, grow and/or distribute these drugs is often viewed as the most important purpose of drug law enforcement. This view is certainly strong in popular media depictions of organised drug criminals. Unfortunately, the reality is perhaps far less entertaining or straightforward, although just as, if not more, important. While there is no doubt that a key role of drug law enforcement is to remove drugs and high-risk offenders from the community, the most critical factor is what this actually achieves in the longer term. That is, a community that is less burdened by the impact of drugs, such as crime, illness, injury and death.

Increasingly, there is both internal and external pressure on drug law enforcement to demonstrate not just how much work they do (the seizures and arrests), but how well they do it (the community impacts)- something that has so far proven very difficult. This paper outlines the nature of these challenges and summarises findings from a national project that shows a practical and effective way forward in measuring the impacts of drug law enforcement.

Adam Tomison

Director

Measuring the impact of drug law enforcement (DLE) practice on illicit drug markets is a notoriously difficult task. Conventional approaches to assessing DLE performance focus on the use of drug seizure and arrest data. However, these data say more about the extent to which police engage in certain types of activities and allocate resources than they do about DLE effectiveness because offences relating to illicit drugs are far more likely to be detected by law enforcement agencies than reported to them. As such, the more effort and resources DLE invest in detecting illicit drugs, the more likely it is that drugs will be seized. On the one hand, DLE can potentially claim success for not seizing any drugs- that is, based on the absence of seizures and arrests, it could be argued that there is no drug problem. Conversely, a lack of seizures and arrests could lay police open to substantial criticism for failing to address the drug problem.

Aside from this, traditional measures say little about the complexities of DLE work and the broader impacts of law enforcement effort. For example, they cannot provide an assessment of the full impact of DLE in producing something of value for communities, such as making communities feel safer and more secure, which is something that Australian DLE personnel view as an important outcome of their work (Willis, Homel & Gray 2006).

The volume of crime is but one measure that can be considered in the broader assessment of the quality of work done by law enforcement. A range of appropriate measures that captures the complexities of law enforcement work can:

* permit a more rigorous assessment of the broader range of outcomes that law enforcement actually produce for their communities (and so help law enforcement agencies demonstrate impacts in real terms);

* inform communities of the depth and breadth of work in which modern law enforcement is engaged;

* form the basis upon which both operational and long-term strategic decision making can be made; and

* assist agencies to justify expending and seeking resources.

Supply and use of illicit drugs are, by their largely clandestine nature, a hidden phenomenon that can only be monitored through use of indirect indicators linked to observable consequences, such as crime, drug-related illness, injury and death. The use of these types of multidisciplinar/ indicators to monitor and measure law enforcement performance is gaining increasing acceptance here in Australia and elsewhere as there is greater recognition that arrest and seizure data alone are unsatisfactory when interpreted in isolation from other factors (Castle 2008; Kilmer & Hoorens 2010; Osnick Milligan & Fridell 2006; Rossi 2001 ; Weatherburn 2000). …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Measuring the Effectiveness of Drug Law Enforcement
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Author Advanced search

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.