Criminal justice – drugs

UNODC World Drug Report 2023 warns of converging crises as illicit drug markets continue to expand (2023)
Vienna, 26 June 2023: Continued record illicit drug supply and increasingly agile trafficking networks are compounding intersecting global crises and challenging health services and law enforcement responses, according to the World Drug Report 2023 launched by the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) today. New data put the global estimate of people who inject drugs in 2021 at 13.2 million, 18 per cent higher than previously estimated. Globally, over 296 million people used drugs in 2021, an increase of 23 per cent over the previous decade. The number of people who suffer from drug use disorders, meanwhile, has skyrocketed to 39.5 million, a 45 per cent increase over 10 years | UNODC, Austria

County Lines: Breaking the cycle (2022)
Our latest report into county lines calls for a new approach to ensure children who may be involved in county lines drug dealing are kept safe and away from the criminals exploiting them | Crest Advisory, UK

Swift, Certain, Tough: New consequences for drug possession (2022)
This white paper sets out a tough, escalatory framework aimed at adults caught in
possession of low levels of so-called recreational drugs. It includes a combination of
proposals for legislation, as well as broader areas for reform | Home Office, UK

The use of out-of-court disposals and diversion at the ‘front end’ (2022)
This report examines the effectiveness of out-of-court disposals and diversion programmes and considers whether there is scope to increase their use. Our research included analysis of the latest evidence and trends, an in-depth study in the Thames Valley Police force area and a nationally representative survey. We concluded that there is a strong case to be made for the expansion of out-of-court sanctions – building on pockets of good practice across England and Wales… | CREST Advisory, UK

Press release: Largest ever increase in funding for drug treatment (2021)
The government’s ten year Drug Strategy aims to tackle drugs and prevent crime, backed by the largest ever increase in funding for drug treatment | Department of Health and Social Care and Home Office, UK

From harm to hope: A 10-year drugs plan to cut crime and save lives (2021)
The drug strategy sets out how the government and its partners will take action to tackle drug misuse and the harms it causes | Home Office, UK

Drug Law Reform Report [Scotland] (2021)
This report explores how existing legislation and its use impacts on the current situation amid the changing landscape of Scotland’s unique drug deaths challenge. It looks at how changes in three key areas could enable a more effective national response | Drug Deaths Taskforce, UK

Government response to the independent review of drugs by Dame Carol Black (2021)
Details the government’s response to parts 1 and 2 of Dame Carol Black’s independent review of drugs | Department of Health and Social Care and Home Office, UK

European Drug Report 2021
Latest report on the drug situation in the European Union – Looks at:
COVID-19 – How has the COVID-19 pandemic affected drug use and supply?;
Drug use and harms – What drugs are causing the most concern today?
Drug production – What are the latest trends in drug production and trafficking? | EMCDDA, Portugal

Death Penalty For Drug Offences: Global Overview 2020 (2021)
This report, our tenth on the subject, continues our work of providing regular updates on legislative, policy and practical developments related to the use of capital punishment for drug offences, a practice which is a clear violation of international law | HRI, UK

European Union Serious and Organised Crime Threat Assessment (2021)
Close to 40% of the criminal networks active in the EU are involved in the trade in illegal drugs | Europol, The Netherlands

Narcotic Drugs 2020: Estimated World Requirements for 2021 (PDF)
Global production and stocks of opium increased significantly in 2019. Opium imports, on the other hand, showed a strong decrease.The continuing low demand for the drug could signal a trend towards the eventual elimination of the drug from the international market for opiate raw materials | INCB, Austria

County Lines exploitation: applying All Our Health (2021)
This guide is part of ‘All Our Health’, a resource which helps health professionals prevent ill health and promote wellbeing as part of their everyday practice. The information will help front-line health and care professionals use their trusted relationships with patients, families and communities to improve their mental health and wellbeing | PHE, UK

Drug offences sentencing guidelines revised as offending changes (2021)
A comprehensive package of revised sentencing guidelines for drugs offences that reflect a change in the nature of offending and additional offences in relation to psychoactive substances has been published today by the Sentencing Council following consultation | Sentencing Council, UK

Seizures of drugs in England and Wales, financial year ending 2020
Contains figures for seizures of drugs made by local police forces and the UK Border Force | Home Office, UK

The new EU Agenda and Action Plan on Drugs 2021-2025, July 2020
On the path toward building up its internal security, on 24 July 2020, the European Commission adopted a new EU Agenda and Action Plan on Drugs 2021-2025 as part of the Security Union Strategy. The new EU Agenda and Action Plan on Drugs 2021-2025 sets out the political framework and priorities for action in the next five years | Europa, Belgium

World Drug Report (2020)
Presented in six separate booklets, the World Drug Report 2020 provides a wealth of information and analysis to support the international community in implementing operational recommendations on a number of commitments made by Member States, including the recommendations contained in the outcome document of the special session of the General Assembly on the world drug problem, held in 2016 | UNODC, Austria

EU Drug Markets — Impact of COVID-19 (2020)
What effect is COVID-19 having on the drug market in the EU? This joint publication from the EMCDDA and Europol analyses the impact of the pandemic on the market for the main drug types (cannabis, heroin, cocaine, amphetamines, NPS), including demand, production, trafficking and availability. It reports higher prices, local shortages and reduced purity for some drugs, while noting continued violence among suppliers and distributors. It also shows how organised crime groups remain active and resilient, by adapting transportation models, trafficking routes and concealment methods, even during the pandemic | EMCDDA and Europol, Portugal

EMCDDA special report: COVID-19 and drugs – Drug supply via darknet markets (2020)
This report is a rapid and preliminary analysis of the impact of COVID-19 on selected online markets. Three relatively large darknet markets were reviewed for the purposes of this study, selected because of their importance to the EU market and because they could be accessed to provide information necessary to comment on activity levels | EMCDDA, Portugal

Review of drugs: phase one report [Dame Carol Black’s report] (2020)
In February 2019, the Home Secretary appointed Professor Dame Carol Black to undertake an independent review of drugs. This was to inform the government’s thinking on what more can be done to tackle the harm that drugs cause. Dame Carol’s response to phase one of the commission provides a detailed analysis of the challenges posed by drug supply and demand, including county lines and the ways in which drugs fuel serious violence | Home Office, UK

The prison system: Priorities for investment (PDF) (2020)
An insight into the prison system with recommendations for change. Includes a discussion on the use of drugs in prison and notes that in the 12 months to March 2019, 17 per cent of drug tests on prisoners were positive | Reform, UK

Seizures of drugs in England and Wales, financial year ending 2019, Second edition – updated Jan 2020
Contains figures for seizures of drugs made by local police forces and the UK Border Force | Home Office, UK

EU Drug Markets Report (2019)
The EU Drug Markets Report 2019 is the third comprehensive overview of illicit drug markets in the European Union by the EMCDDA and Europol. The analysis presented in this report spans numerous topics such as the links between drugs and other crimes, the licit economy and society more generally as well as the processes and players involved in the trade, from production and trafficking to distribution | EMCDDA, Portugal

DM for Details: Selling Drugs in the Age of Social Media, 2019
In this report, Volteface aims to bridge the gap in understanding of how social media is being used as a marketplace for illicit drugs and the impact this is having on young people – social media’s primary user group | Volte Face, UK

ACMD report: Custody-community transitions, 2019
Report from the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs (ACMD) on how to reduce drug-related harms that occur when people move between custody and the community | ACMD, UK

National Prison Drugs Strategy, 2019
The Prison Drugs Strategy sets out our ambition to tackle drugs by restricting supply, reducing demand and building recovery. This mirrors the 3 strands of the HM Government Drug Strategy and, through a comprehensive approach, offers the best opportunity to reduce the levels of drug misuse in our prisons | MoJ and HMPPS, UK

Drug Seizures and Offender Characteristics, 2017-18 [Scotland], 2019
This bulletin presents Official Statistics on drug seizures made by the police in Scotland and the characteristics of those found in possession of drugs. These statistics relate to drugs controlled under the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971, which divides drugs into three classes, namely A, B and C | Scottish Government, UK

What we have learned over the last ten years: A summary of knowledge acquired and produced by the UN system on drug-related matters, 2019 (PDF)
This brief is a collection of successful experiences in law enforcement, prevention, health care, human rights and development over the last ten years. It is a tool for sharing best practices and promoting evidence-based, rights-based approaches | UNODC, Austria

Review of the Psychoactive Substances Act 2016
This review sought to measure changes in outcomes before and after the implementation of the Act, to provide an indication of whether its aims are being achieved | Home Office, UK

Research and analysis: Forensic early warning system (FEWS) annual report, 2018
Annual report on the Home Office forensic early warning system, which identifies new psychoactive substances in the UK | Home Office, UK

Seizures of drugs in England and Wales, financial year ending 2017
This release presents figures for drug seizures made in April 2016 to March 2017 in England and Wales by the police (including the British Transport Police) and Border Force | Home Office, UK

INCB Annual Report and Precursors report 2016, 2017
The INCB Annual Report, prepared in accordance with the international drug control treaties, reviews the functioning of the international drug control system, contains an analysis of the global drug control situation, draws attention to weaknesses in national and international drug control, and makes recommendations to Governments and regional and international organizations. The thematic chapter of the INCB Annual Report for 2016 focuses on the topic of women and drugs | INCB, Switzerland

Guidance: Five nations health and justice collaboration: psychoactive substances, 2017
This statement outlines how the European drug marketplace has become increasingly complex with an increasing number of new substances available alongside more established drugs and diverted medications. The Five Nations Health and Justice Collaboration has been sharing increasing reports of NPS use in prisons across the five nations and their impact, not only on the health of the individual but also the prison regime, which has led to it to make this collective statement | PHE, UK

Drug trafficking penalties across the European Union: a survey of expert opinion, 2017
The results of a study on national drug trafficking laws and their application in the Member States of the European Union are presented in this report. It is based on an analysis of the national laws and on the opinions of legal practitioners — judges, prosecutors and defence lawyers — from 26 countries. The penalties set out in national laws for trafficking cannabis, amphetamine, cocaine and heroin are compared with the sentencing outcomes expected by the legal practitioners, including penalties imposed and the estimated time likely to be spent in prison | EMCDDA, Portugal

Seizures of drugs in England and Wales, year ending 31 March 2016
In this publication the numbers of seizures made are affected by police activity and changes in recording practices and police powers, such as the introduction of cannabis warnings. Therefore, the number of drug seizures made and quantity of drugs seized should not be taken as measures of drug prevalence in England and Wales | Home Office, UK

New psychoactive substances in Europe Legislation and prosecution — current challenges and solutions (PDF) 2016

This publication features:

  • An analysis of Member States’ approaches to the NPS issue
  • An analysis of how an EU Court of Justice ruling has left gaps in national jurisdictions which used medicine laws to regulate NPS
  • Case studies from EU Member States
  • A state-by-state overview of innovative laws dealing with NPS

| EMCDDA, Europol, Portugal

NPS Come of Age: A UK Overview, 2016, (PDF)
This report, written by Harry Shapiro is a 2016 DrugWise publication based on work first published by DrugScope in 2014 and 2015. It covers the history of New Psychoactive Substances (NPS); the effects and characteristics of the drugs themselves; the prevalence of their use; treatment and education interventions; and the legislative responses; including, of course, the Psychoactive Substances Act. There are also links to many further sources of information | DrugWise, UK

Circular 004/2016: Psychoactive Substances Act 2016
Provides information about the Psychoactive Substances Act, which comes into effect on Thursday 26 May 2016 | Home Office, UK

Psychoactive Substances Act 2016: guidance for researchers, 2016
This guidance is to help researchers comply with the Psychoactive Substances Act, which comes into effect on 26 May 2016 | Home Office, UK

Psychoactive Substances Act: guidance for retailers, 2016
This guidance is to help retailers understand the Psychoactive Substances Act 2016, which comes into effect on 26 May 2016 | Home Office, UK

NPS Communications toolkit, 2016 (PDF)
This pack outlines possible communication activity on the ban of New Psychoactive Substances (NPS) to carry out in your local area. It has been written for enforcement partners | Home Office / NPCC, UK

EU Drug Markets Report, 2016
The 2016 EU Drug Markets Report provides a unique insight into the operation of illicit drug markets in the EU. The report assesses the impact of the drug market on society and the factors driving it. It explores the market for cannabis, heroin, cocaine, amphetamines, MDMA and new psychoactive substances. Understanding these hidden markets, and the actors involved, is essential to making sound policy decisions with lasting impact. The report combines the analytical power of the EMCDDA’s drug monitoring system with Europol’s operational intelligence on trends in organised crime | EMCDDA, Portugal

Terminology and Information on Drugs, 2016 (PDF)
The UNODC publication Terminology and Information on Drugs introduces basic concepts and materials on substances under international control, which are most frequently manufactured or processed and/or abused, as well as definitions of scientific terms used in this context. The current revision of this publication is being prepared as a response to changes in drug markets and scheduling decisions of the Commission on Narcotic Drugs in recent years | UNODC, Austria

The internet and drug markets, 2016
The last decade has seen the emergence of new internet technologies that have acted as important facilitators of online drug markets. The internet now hosts a range of virtual marketplaces (both on the surface and deep web) for selling and buying illicit substances, as well as representing a new arena for health and law enforcement interventions. This first EMCDDA investigation into the world of online drug markets brings together state-of-the-art input from over 20 experts — from academia, journalism and frontline practice — and contributes to the knowledge base on this part of the supply chain | EMCDDA, Portugal

WEDINOS PHILTRE Annual report [Report on NPS], 2016 (PDF)
A new report has found that people can never be sure of what is in so-called ‘legal highs’, or be certain that these substances are legal. Twenty one per cent of samples submitted to Public Health Wales’ WEDINOS programme which were believed to be legal were found to contain a controlled compound | WEDINOS, UK

Women, Drug Policies, and Incarceration: A Guide to Policy Reform in Latin America and the Caribbean, 2016
The use of prison as a response to drugs has had a disproportionate negative impact on women. In Argentina, Brazil, and Costa Rica, more than 60 percent of the female prison population is incarcerated for drug-related offenses. Many of them have low levels of education, live in poverty, and are the primary caregivers of dependent persons—children, young people, the elderly, and the disabled | WOLA, USA

Alternatives to punishment for drug-using offenders, 2015 (PDF)
Based on the options provided by the international drug control legal framework, this paper considers the rehabilitative measures of treating, educating or reintegrating drug users as alternatives or additions to conviction or punishment that are established in the laws of many countries in Europe today. Distinguishing them from ‘alternatives to prison’, it outlines the variety of rehabilitative measures in use and sets out the main issues in their design, implementation and evaluation | EMCDDA, Portugal

New psychoactive substances in Europe: innovative legal responses, 2015 (PDF)
This report takes a close look at the more innovative legal responses that have been designed to address the NPS challenge | EMCDDA, Portugal

Drug courts: Equivocal evidence on a popular intervention, 2015
Some countries have adopted drug treatment courts as a way to reduce drug-related incarceration. Drug treatment courts, also called “drug courts,” are meant to offer court-supervised treatment for drug dependence for some persons who would otherwise go to prison for a drug-related offense. This report looks at the evidence for their effectiveness | IDPC, UK

Death penalty and drug crimes, World Coalition, 2015 (PDF)
This report looks at which countries impose the death penalty for drug possession | World Coalition Against The Death Penalty, France

The Death Penalty for Drug Offences: Global Overview, 2015
Since bring launched in 2007, HRI’s death penalty project has been the leading global resource on the issue of the death penalty for drug offences. In this new fourth edition of HRI’s ‘Global Overview’ series, HRI updates our previous research on the death penalty for drugs in law and practice worldwide, and also considers critical developments on the issue | HRI, UK