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Home > Desistance from criminalisation: police culture and new directions in drugs policing.

Bacon, Matthew (2021) Desistance from criminalisation: police culture and new directions in drugs policing. Policing and Society, . https://doi.org/10.1080/10439463.2021.1920587.

External website: https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/10439...


Globally, there is emerging evidence that drugs policing is moving away from traditional enforcement interventions towards a greater focus on harm reduction. Signs of a shift include alternatives to criminalisation in the form of police-led diversion schemes. This article examines the extent to which new directions in drugs policing reflect changes in police culture. The key change under consideration is police desistance from criminalising people who use drugs. Another aim is to advance theoretical debates into the factors affecting cultural change in police organisations. Drawing on an extensive qualitative study of challenges, innovation and reform in drugs policing across England and Wales, the findings capture the transformative effect of certain experiences on the values police officers hold and how they understand and make sense of drug problems, their role and impact. It is argued that further insights into cultural change can be gained by drawing on the concept of turning points from life-course criminology and desistance research. The findings also reveal how changes in the field of policing have fostered and facilitated changes in police culture and practice. A policy implication of this study is that cultural change could be furthered through experiential learning and critical reflective practice approaches to police education.

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