Around 55,000 adults were sentenced for drug-related offences in 2010. So today’s new guidelines on drug offences from the Sentencing Council have the potential to affect many. On an initial review we have concluded that they are a bit of a mixed bag.
On the plus side, age or lack of maturity is included as a mitigating factor in sentencing. This could mean that some younger people face less punitive sentences. Drug possession (including possession of Class A drugs) might also attract a fine in some circumstances. Used sensibly, this might result in a modest reduction in the use of custody.
Those who are convicted of drug trafficking offences might also face more lenient sentences if they can demonstrate that they were forced into the act, or were unaware of what they were carrying.
On the other hand, the guidelines point to tougher sentences for those convicted of producing or cultivating drugs.
Overall the Council estimates the aggregate effect of the changes will be neutral.
In its official announcement today the Council claims that although ‘primarily aimed at criminal justice professionals, the guideline is specifically designed to be accessible and clear to the public.’
Take a look at the guidelines and judge for yourselves.
This research examines the cost-effectiveness (in terms of impact on crime and health care) of substance misuse treatment for young people. It concludes that "the immediate and long-term benefits of specialist substance misuse treatment for young people are likely to significantly outweigh the cost of providing this treatment".
De-regularisation of closing times: evaluating the impact of the Licensing Act of 2003 - three pieces of researchWritten by Works for Freedom (26/05/11)
The Licensing Act of 2003, implemented in England and Wales in late 2005, had the express purpose of reducing crime and disorder. Arianna Silvestri, associate at the Centre for Crime and Justice Studies, summarises the findings of three pieces of research evaluating the impact of the Licensing Act of 2003.
How ideology shapes the evidence and the policy: what do we know about cannabis use and what should we do?Written by Works for Freedom (26/05/11)
Article published in Addiction, 9 February 2010 and dealing with the factors influencing recent public discourse and policy decisions in the UK.
Delivery of a brief motivational intervention to patients with alcohol related facial injuries: Role for a specialist nurseWritten by Works for Freedom (26/05/11)
A study, published in the British Journal of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery, examining the impact of hospital based nurse counselling interventions with people affected by alcohol-generated violence.
Arianna Silvestri, associate at the Centre for Crime and Justice Studies, summarises research by D. Nutt, L. King, W. Saulsbury, C. Blakemore (2007), ‘Development of a rational scale to assess the harm of drugs of potential misuse’, as published in The Lancet, Volume 369, Issue 9566, Pages 1047-1053.
A study published by the UK Drug Policy Commission that estimates that at least 1.5m adults in the UK are caring for family members with drug problems and are as a result bearing a hidden financial burden of at least £1.8m. This care contribution is not fully recognised and often causes not just financial hardship but in loss of employment, breakdown of family relationships and psychological stress.
The first national reassessment for over 10 years shows mixed results for drug treatment services in England. A year after starting treatment drug use, convictions for criminal offences and health risk behaviour were observed to be reduced. However, quality of life gains were minor compared to treatment costs. The study argues that patients and services are far from achieving national reintegration objectives.
This study looking at statistical data for 2008/2009 shows that although record numbers of teenagers in England are receiving help with drug and alcohol-related problems, the number of these with crack or heroin issues is falling. An important point made in this research is that drug addiction is rare among teenagers.