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Moore, Joan (2007) Drugs in Focus - policy briefing. Drugnet Ireland, Issue 23, Autumn 2007, p. 27.

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No. 16: Drugs and crime – a complex relationship 

To advance the overall EU drugs strategy’s aim of ensuring a high level of security for the general public, the EU drugs action plan 2005–2008 includes an explicit action to develop a common definition of drug-related crime. This policy briefing, No 16, explores the different types of offences that might be encompassed under a general heading of drug-related crime, and proposes a definition encompassing four categories: 

1.       Psychopharmacological crimes: crimes committed under the influence of a psychoactive substance, as a result of its acute or chronic use;

2.       Economic-compulsive crimes: crimes committed in order to obtain money (or drugs) to support drug use;

3.       Systemic crimes: crimes committed within the functioning of illicit drug markets, as part of the business of drug supply, distribution and use; and

4.       Drug law offences: crimes committed in violation of drug (and other related) legislation.

The briefing concludes with a series of considerations for policy-makers: 

o      A range of factors and conditions lead offending and drug-using populations to follow a variety of pathways, each of which may make a specific and distinct connection between drugs and crime. Responses to drug-related crime therefore need to be complex, differentiated and targeted.

o      Understanding the links between drugs and crime is not merely of theoretical interest but also has profound implications for public policy, as knowledge of these links determines how society responds to drug-related crime. Thus, it is necessary to promote research in Europe on the drug–crime link and its various connections in order to determine how to reduce drug-related crime.

o      Although defining drug-related crime is a reductive exercise that cannot account for the whole complexity of the drug–crime nexus, a clear definition of the term ‘drug-related crime’ is required as a prerequisite for evaluation.

o      There is a need in Europe to develop sound methodologies, based on multi-source models, for assessing the extent and patterns of, and trends in, drug-related crime.

o      National estimates of the extent and patterns of drug-related crime are essential if studies of the social costs of drugs are to become meaningful, as such studies often face difficulties in taking into account crimes other than drug law offences.

o      Methodologies to estimate drug-related crime will help to improve evaluation of the effect of interventions and measures aimed at reducing drug-related crime, both in the field of drug demand reduction (treatment, harm reduction) and crime prevention/reduction (situational crime prevention, alternatives to imprisonment, social crime prevention).



Item Type
Publication Type
International, Open Access, Article
Drug Type
Substances (not alcohol/tobacco)
Intervention Type
Crime prevention, Policy
Issue Title
Issue 23, Autumn 2007
July 2007
Page Range
p. 27
Health Research Board
Issue 23, Autumn 2007
Accession Number
HRB (Available)

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