Europe South Asia Asia Pacific Americas Middle East Africa BBC Homepage World Service Education



Front Page

World

UK

UK Politics

Business

Sci/Tech

Health

Education

Sport

Entertainment

Talking Point

In Depth

On Air

Archive
Feedback
Low Graphics
Help

Wednesday, August 18, 1999 Published at 01:23 GMT 02:23 UK


UK

Drugs 'behind a third of property crimes'

Most heroin and crack users fund their habit by crime

One in three thefts, burglaries and street robberies is related to drugs, according to a report.

The National Association for the Care and Resettlement of Offenders (Nacro) says the number of people convicted or cautioned for drug offences has more than quadrupled in the past 10 years.

It says policies of imprisoning drug offenders have failed and it supports government attempts to concentrate more on treatment programmes.

But it is worried that access to the programmes is variable across the country and funding is often insecure.

Its report, Drug-driven crime: a factual and statistical analysis, found that people using cocaine and heroin were the most likely to commit crimes, including violent attacks which were linked to crack cocaine.

A study in the north west of England found that heroin addicts spent an average of £10,000 a year on drugs, with crack addicts spending twice as much.

The majority funded their habit partly or wholly by crime.

The cost of drug-related crime to victims is estimated to be as much as £2.5bn a year.

Jail 'ineffective'

In 1997/98, the government spent £1.4bn on drugs, with more than two thirds going to law and order and a third to treatment and prevention.

Nacro says jailing prisoners is an ineffective way of dealing with the problem.

A Home Office study of more than 7,000 offenders found that drug use was the most significant factor in reconviction rates - higher than employment, alcohol, finances and accommodation problems.


[ image: Heroin users can spend £10,000 a year on their habit]
Heroin users can spend £10,000 a year on their habit
Nacro favours treatment over jail. It says a recent Department of Health study showed that drug use and crime dropped substantially during and after treatment. The number of offenders using drugs halved after two years and property crimes reduced by 68%.

The government has funded several pilot studies into treatment programmes, but results, although promising, are still in the early stages.

The Nacro report says research in the US revealed dramatic results for treatment programmes.

A 1996 study found that clients reduced drug use by about 50% in the year after treatment while the number of arrests fell by more than half.

Studies in the US and Australia suggest treatment is more effective if begun early and if it is carried out on a long-term basis.

The Nacro report says: "Past approaches, which have devoted the lion's share of resources for tackling illegal drugs to law enforcement and wholly inadequate funding to prevention and treatment, have failed.

"Getting drug dependent offenders into treatment programmes is by far the most effective option."

Nacro claims that for every £1 spent on treatment, £3 is saved on the crime bill.

However, it says current availability of drug treatment and rehabilitation services varies widely across the country.

Women fare worst

A recent survey for the Department of Health found that 64% of residential services and 61% of drug dependency clinics had a waiting list.

Other research found that agencies said they discouraged drug misusers from being referred for assessment because local authority criteria on eligibility was so strict.

Funding for projects treating women and the growing number of young users was particularly poor.

The government has pledged to increase investment in treatment of drug offenders and has set aside £217m for its 10-year drugs programme.

However, drug agencies say this will have to be divided between crime-fighting, education, prevention and other areas.





Advanced options | Search tips




Back to top | BBC News Home | BBC Homepage | ©


UK Contents

Northern Ireland
Scotland
Wales
England

Relevant Stories

12 Aug 99†|†Health
Services for drug users 'failing'

14 Jul 99†|†Health
£20m expected for drug treatment plan

25 May 99†|†Health
Anti-drug plan wins cautious praise

25 May 99†|†Health
Drugs czar targets treatment

14 May 99†|†Health
Drugs project wins government praise





Internet Links


Home Office

Drug information

Health Education Authority


The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites.




In this section

Next steps for peace

Blairs' surprise over baby

Bowled over by Lord's

Beef row 'compromise' under fire

Hamilton 'would sell mother'

Industry misses new trains target

From Sport
Quins fightback shocks Cardiff

From Business
Vodafone takeover battle heats up

IRA ceasefire challenge rejected

Thousands celebrate Asian culture

From Sport
Christie could get two-year ban

From Entertainment
Colleagues remember Compo

Mother pleads for baby's return

Toys withdrawn in E.coli health scare

From Health
Nurses role set to expand

Israeli PM's plane in accident

More lottery cash for grassroots

Pro-lifers plan shock launch

Double killer gets life

From Health
Cold 'cure' comes one step closer

From UK Politics
Straw on trial over jury reform

Tatchell calls for rights probe into Mugabe

Ex-spy stays out in the cold

From UK Politics
Blair warns Livingstone

From Health
Smear equipment `misses cancers'

From Entertainment
Boyzone star gets in Christmas spirit

Fake bubbly warning

Murder jury hears dead girl's diary

From UK Politics
Germ warfare fiasco revealed

Blair babe triggers tabloid frenzy

Tourists shot by mistake

A new look for News Online