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Journal Article


Hellawell K. Drug Alcohol Rev. 1995; 14(3): 317-322.


West Yorkshire Police, PO Box 9, Wakefield, West Yorkshire, WF1 3QP, United Kingdom.


(Copyright © 1995, John Wiley and Sons)






Illicit drugs have become a major global problem in recent decades following considerable recent political change, including the collapse of communism and the formation of international super-states to increase trade. Despite increasing collaboration between law enforcement authorities in different countries, illicit drug problems appear likely to increase in the future because of the vast profits available, continuing (and increasing) demand and more permissive attitudes concerning drugs among young people. While rejecting legalization or decriminalization, the search for more effective responses by law enforcement authorities and the community generally must be stepped up. Police services continue to play an important role restricting the availability of illicit drugs but increasing emphasis needs to be given to reducing demand, including more available and more effective preventive drug education in schools. Police also need to work with harm reduction approaches devised to reduce the negative consequences of drug use for those who continue to use illicit drugs. New measures proposed in Britain are outlined. These stress the importance of a multi-sectoral approach operating at both national and local levels with the objective of reducing drug-related crime, reducing the acceptability and availability of illicit drugs and reducing the harmful consequences of illicit drug use. Harm reduction requires a commitment for close collaboration between police and drug treatment services to maximize the effectiveness of needle-exchange schemes and other harm reduction approaches. Cautioning, now commonly used in Britain for selected minor drug offences, has a number of benefits including reducing criminal justice costs. Greater emphasis must be placed on diversion schemes involving close links between police and drug treatment services. Future progress requires firm commitments to providing adequate and effective drug treatment services, conducting research to develop and evaluate more effective diversion schemes, improving collaboration between sectors and effective leadership. In addition to the major costs of illicit drug use to the community, the huge cost to individuals must remain a major focus driving the search for more effective responses to the problems resulting from illicit drugs.

Language: en


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