A report examined the effect that heroin and crack-cocaine use might have had on acquisitive crime (theft-type offences) in England and Wales since 1980 and the implications for future crime trends. It said that the number of heroin users increased markedly through the 1980s and early 1990s and that many also used crack as their drug-using career developed, with use probably peaking between 1993 and 2000, and crime having peaked between 1993 and 1995. There had been a reduction in the number of younger users and the report said that many of the existing heroin/crack using population were therefore older. It said that, in aggregate, heroin/crack users were a driver of overall crime trends, and that detecting and preventing future drug epidemics was paramount. The report said that if it was possible to identify the minority of heroin/crack users who committed large volumes of crime during addiction periods, and those periods could be shortened or prevented, there was significant potential to reduce crime but, given the trends in use, many might already have tried most existing forms of treatment and innovative approaches might therefore be needed.
Source: Nick Morgan, The Heroin Epidemic of the 1980s and 1990s and Its Effect on Crime Trends – Then and Now, Research Report 79, Home Office
The Serious Crime Bill was published. The Bill was designed to: strengthen the powers of the police to prevent serious and organized crime, including the extension in scope of serious crime prevention orders and gang injunctions, and amendments to the Computer Misuse Act; improve the ability to recover criminal assets, and enable the seizure of drug-cutting agents; extend the extra-territorial reach of legislation relating to female genital mutilation; allow certain suspected terrorism preparation offences that were committed overseas to be prosecuted in the United Kingdom; make it an offence to possess an item that contained advice or guidance about committing sexual offences against children; and make explicit the offence of cruelty likely to cause psychological harm to a child.
Source: Serious Crime Bill, Home Office, TSO
The Queen's Speech set out the United Kingdom coalition government's legislative programme for 2014-15. It included plans for a Serious Crime Bill to: strengthen the powers of the police to prevent serious and organized crime, including the extension in scope of Serious Crime Prevention Orders and gang injunctions, and amendments to the Computer Misuse Act; improve the ability to recover criminal assets; extend the extra-territorial reach of legislation relating to female genital mutilation; allow certain suspected terrorism preparation offences that were committed overseas to be prosecuted in the United Kingdom; and make explicit the offence of cruelty likely to cause psychological harm to a child.
Source: Queen's Speech, 4 June 2014, columns 1-4, House of Commons Hansard, TSO
Links: Hansard | Prime Ministers Office briefing | Cabinet Office guidance | PMO/DPMO press release | Home Office press release | Northern Ireland Office press release | Scotland Office press release | Wales Office press release | Action for Children press release | Childrens Society press release | Scottish Government press release | BBC report | Guardian report | Telegraph report
An article presented the findings of focus group research into public attitudes to the sentencing of drug offences. It said that participants' responses were generally no more punitive than existing sentencing practice for less serious offences. Participants' overriding concerns were about the harms associated with drug offences rather than the culpability of drug offenders.
Source: Amy Kirby and Jessica Jacobson, 'Public attitudes to the sentencing of drug offences', Criminology and Criminal Justice, Volume 14 Number 3
An article examined the impact of a policing experiment that depenalized the possession of small quantities of cannabis in the London borough of Lambeth on hospital admissions related to illicit drug use. Noting an increase in longer term admission rates for the use of hard drugs, it considered the estimated public health costs.
Source: Elaine Kelly and Imran Rasul, 'Policing cannabis and drug related hospital admissions: evidence from administrative records', Journal of Public Economics, Volume 112
A report said that 70 per cent of United Kingdom prisoners responding to a survey admitted they had been drinking when they committed the offence for which they were imprisoned, yet only half of those prisoners recognized their drinking as a problem. The report said that services available in prison were based on alcohol dependency rather than behaviour, and that only 40 per cent of the survey respondents had been made aware of the support available to them when they left prison. The report called for alcohol treatment services to form a key part of prison rehabilitation, for all frontline prison staff to be given specialist alcohol awareness training, for specialist support services for women, for a needs analysis to inform the commissioning of alcohol-related services, and for continuing 'through the gate' support for prisoners on release from prison.
Source: Sophie Kydd and Natalie Roe, The Alcohol and Crime Commission Report, Alcohol and Crime Commission
An article examined a theory of 'social capital portfolios', developed from the social capital, substance misuse, and desistance literatures and refined through an 18-month longitudinal study of probation-managed drug interventions. The article applied the theory in the evaluation of contemporary probation drug policy and developments, and made recommendations.
Source: Helen Beckett Wilson, 'Criminal justice? Using a social capital theory to evaluate probation-managed drug policy', Probation Journal, Volume 61 Number 1
An article examined the 'dissonance' between the rhetoric of evidence-based policy and the actuality of policing policy in relation to illicit drugs.
Source: Alison Ritter and Kari Lancaster, 'Illicit drugs, policing and the evidence-based policy paradigm', Evidence & Policy, Volume 9 Number 4
The government published a summary of responses to its consultations on specifying legal limits for a range of illicit and prescription drugs in new 'drug driving' regulations. Further consultation would be necessary regarding amphetamines, to account for patients taking related prescribed drugs. The government announced that it would now lay regulations before parliament, and conduct a communications exercise ahead of implementation.
Source: Drug Driving – Summary of Responses to the 2 Consultations: Specifying the drugs and their corresponding limits for inclusion in regulations for the new offence of driving with a specified drug in the body above a specified limit, Department for Transport
A report examined the illicit drugs market in Europe and considered how enforcement actions could be made more effective. It said that the range of substances, trafficking routes, and the methods used by organized criminals were all changing, with the European Union having developed as a producing region, new markets developing in Africa, Asia, and Latin America, and increasing use made of new technologies. The report made a number of strategic recommendations for the European Union area and called for continued investment in known effective measures, such as: intelligence-led policing; the targeting of key organized crime figures, financial transactions, and precursor chemicals; and co-ordinated actions and co-operation between national law enforcement bodies.
Source: EU Drug Markets Report: A strategic analysis, European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction/Europol