Drugs and crime link

January 27, 1995

A clear link exists between persistent criminal behaviour by young offenders and high levels of drug use, according to Mike Collison of Keele University's department of criminology.

But it is not the case that young people embark on crime to feed their drug habits as politicians and the public often believe, he says.

Dr Collison has conducted detailed life-history interviews with a random sample of 80 prison inmates aged between 17 and 21. Some 81 per cent had committed their first crime by the age of 15.

The survey, backed by the Economic and Social Research Council, showed that 74 per cent of drug users in the survey began crime before or at the same time as starting to take drugs.

Fourteen was the average age of starting drugs with most beginning between 12 and 16 years of age.

Dr Collison says that drugs and crime feed off each other and the Government should recognise this.

"The thrust of drug strategies in recent years has been that if we do something about drugs then we would automatically be tackling crime. It is nowhere near so simple. I would argue that if we did something about crime then we would be in a much better position to address the problem of drug use among young people," he says.

The drift into crimes such as shoplifting results from young people entering a culture where drugs are a way of life. "It is a very expensive lifestyle they are introduced to. The best trainers, sweat shirts and Pounds 100 on a rave night is typical."

According to the report, Crime, Drug and Treatment Careers, most of the drug-using sample had tried a range of drugs. Classified by main drug, 30 per cent used cannabis on a regular basis, 14 per cent one of the "dance drugs" regularly and 15 per cent heroin. Many of the heroin users were also users of drugs such as cocaine and amphetamine.

The unanimous view among drug users in the sample was that the present education and treatment policies and agencies were irrelevant to them.

Dr Collison says: "A fundamental rethink of these policies is needed. The vast majority in the drug using group did not want to stop and saw their drug use and crime as part of everyday life. In the words of young offenders themselves, they 'can find better things to do with their time'."

You've reached your article limit.

Register to continue

Registration is free and only takes a moment. Once registered you can read a total of 3 articles each month, plus:

  • Sign up for the editor's highlights
  • Receive World University Rankings news first
  • Get job alerts, shortlist jobs and save job searches
  • Participate in reader discussions and post comments
Register

Have your say

Log in or register to post comments

Most Commented

James Fryer illustration (27 July 2017)

It is not Luddism to be cautious about destroying an academic publishing industry that has served us well, says Marilyn Deegan

Jeffrey Beall, associate professor and librarian at the University of Colorado Denver

Creator of controversial predatory journals blacklist says some peers are failing to warn of dangers of disreputable publishers

Hand squeezing stress ball
Working 55 hours per week, the loss of research periods, slashed pensions, increased bureaucracy, tiny budgets and declining standards have finally forced Michael Edwards out
Kayaker and jet skiiers

Nazima Kadir’s social circle reveals a range of alternative careers for would-be scholars, and often with better rewards than academia

hole in ground

‘Drastic action’ required to fix multibillion-pound shortfall in Universities Superannuation Scheme, expert warns