Drugs and crime in Ireland –
Ilac centre library

Johnny Connolly Alcohol and Drug Research Unit: 8th
September 2011
Overview
•
•
•

Background
The official picture – damned statistics
Understanding drug-related crime
Background
Background
•
•
•
•
•
•
•
•

International campaign against drugs
Misuse of Drugs Act 1977
Summer of 1996 – resurgence of h...
The official picture
Trends in prosecutions for supply, possession and total
drug offence prosecutions 1993–2005
12000
100...
Cannabis and possession offences
compared 1995 - 2005
8000
7000
6000
5000
4000
3000
2000
1000

19
95
19
96
19
97
19
98
19
...
Heroin and cocaine prosecutions
compared 1995 - 2005
1400
1200
1000
800

Heroin

600

Cocaine

400
200

19
95
19
96
19
97
...
Under 17 year old’s prosecuted for
drug offences, by gender 19952005
600
500
400
300
200
100

19
95
19
96
19
97
19
98
19
9...
Drug offences 2003-2008
16000
14000
12000

Number

10000
8000
6000
4000
2000
0
2003

2004

2005

2006

2007

2008

Total d...
Cannabis and total seizures
12000

Number

10000

8000

6000

4000

2000

0
2005

2006

2007

2008

2009

All seizures

63...
Other drug seizures

2000
1800
Number

1600
1400
1200
1000
800
600
400
200
0

2003

2004

2005

2006

2007

2008

2009

Ec...
But what are we missing? The ‘dark’
figure of crime law enforcement?
•
•
•
•
•

•

The law in statute & practice
1 out of ...
The psycho-pharmacological model

•
•
•
•

Where effects of intoxication cause criminal,
especially violent, behaviour
Con...
The economic model-drug use and
acquisitive crime
•
•

•

•

Increase in economically-motivated crimes after
addiction and...
Two garda studies compared
Keogh 1997

Furey and Browne 2004

Crime as main income source

59%

13%

Unemployment rate

84...
Systemic crime – illicit drug markets
as a cause of crime
•
•
•
•
•
•

•
•

Understanding markets (Seizures, Price, Purity...
The common cause model
•

•

•

Drugs and crime
common elements of
delinquent or deviant
lifestyle
Drugs and crime not
cau...
Summarising the link between
drugs and crime
•
•
•
•
•
•
•

Most drug users do not commit crimes other than
those of posse...
Drug market research in Ireland
•
•
•
•
•
•
•
•
•
•
•
•
•

The illicit drug market in Ireland (Connolly 2005)
Crack cocain...
Who is most affected by drugrelated crime?
Community responses to street
level drug markets
State response – Criminal Assets
Bureau & New Drug Laws
Policing communities or
community policing?
1992 – Drug barons reign
1997 – Drug barons run
Changing nature of drug markets
Hidden, Credit-based, Mobile, Violent,
Younger
Consequences of drug markets for
local communities
•
•
•
•
•
•
•
•

Intimidation and violence
No – go areas, particularly ...
Getting real about supply control
•

Third biggest market globally after oil and arms
•
Global value $94 billion, Wine & B...
Is that a Celtic Tiger I
see? Whose law and
order?
Current approaches/challenges
•
•
•
•
•
•
•

National Drugs Strategy 2009-2016
Head shops and the internet
Legislation and...
Debates
•
•
•
•
•

Legalisation/decriminalisation
Depenalisation
The Portuguese solution
The Dutch solution
Community base...
Go raibh maith agat

JCONNOLLY@HRB.IE
Drugs and Crime in Ireland by Johnny Connolly
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Drugs and Crime in Ireland by Johnny Connolly

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Johnny Connolly is a criminologist in the Alcohol and Drugs Research Unit of the Health Research Board. He has researched and written on community policing, drugs and crime and alternatives to imprisonment. He is a Board member of the Irish Penal Reform Trust.

Johnny gave a talk outlining current research and policy on the broad areas of crime and drugs. He explained where the statistics in use come from, what they explain and what they may conceal. He also went through recent trends in drug consumption (rise in the Celtic tiger years, subsequent fall and the ‘headshop’ phenomena) and the official response to this. The presentation was followed by questions and answers.

This presentation was part of Dublin City Public Libraries Crime and the City series.

www.dublincitypubliclibraries.com

Published in: Education, Health & Medicine
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Drugs and Crime in Ireland by Johnny Connolly

  1. 1. Drugs and crime in Ireland – Ilac centre library Johnny Connolly Alcohol and Drug Research Unit: 8th September 2011
  2. 2. Overview • • • Background The official picture – damned statistics Understanding drug-related crime
  3. 3. Background
  4. 4. Background • • • • • • • • International campaign against drugs Misuse of Drugs Act 1977 Summer of 1996 – resurgence of heroin use and drug-related deaths Anti-drug campaign Local meetings, vigils and marches Murder of Journalist Veronica Guerin The state responds Headshops
  5. 5. The official picture Trends in prosecutions for supply, possession and total drug offence prosecutions 1993–2005 12000 10000 8000 Drug supply (s15 MDA) 6000 Drug possession (s3MDA) 4000 Total drug offences 2000 20 05 20 03 20 01 19 99 19 97 19 95 19 93 0
  6. 6. Cannabis and possession offences compared 1995 - 2005 8000 7000 6000 5000 4000 3000 2000 1000 19 95 19 96 19 97 19 98 19 99 20 00 20 01 20 02 20 03 20 04 20 05 0 Cannabis Possession
  7. 7. Heroin and cocaine prosecutions compared 1995 - 2005 1400 1200 1000 800 Heroin 600 Cocaine 400 200 19 95 19 96 19 97 19 98 19 99 20 00 20 01 20 02 20 03 20 04 20 05 0
  8. 8. Under 17 year old’s prosecuted for drug offences, by gender 19952005 600 500 400 300 200 100 19 95 19 96 19 97 19 98 19 99 20 00 20 01 20 02 20 03 20 04 20 05 0 Male Female
  9. 9. Drug offences 2003-2008 16000 14000 12000 Number 10000 8000 6000 4000 2000 0 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 Total drug offences 5324 5798 8290 8924 11647 14374 Drug possession for personal use 3276 3761 5864 6107 8352 10746 Drug possession for supply 1715 1654 1983 2291 2654 2967
  10. 10. Cannabis and total seizures 12000 Number 10000 8000 6000 4000 2000 0 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 All seizures 6362 8417 10444 9991 5494 Cannabis-type substances 3555 4243 5176 5652 2314
  11. 11. Other drug seizures 2000 1800 Number 1600 1400 1200 1000 800 600 400 200 0 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 Ecstasy-type substances 1083 806 689 858 1173 730 90 Heroin 660 612 763 1254 1698 1611 1455 Cocaine 566 753 1045 1500 1749 1010 635 Amphetamines 211 145 125 277 235 126 72
  12. 12. But what are we missing? The ‘dark’ figure of crime law enforcement? • • • • • • The law in statute & practice 1 out of 4 crimes reported 1 out of 11 if shoplifting included 40% reported are not recorded ‘Dark figure’ higher for drugrelated crime (More serious crimes – corruption of govt., police, business and banking systems not explored) Most evidence relates to ‘street-level’ crime (theft, burglary, robbery, assault) • • • • Tolerance (of soft drugs) Public Apathy/ disillusionment Fear of reprisal Discretion and selective enforcement (eg police and prison)
  13. 13. The psycho-pharmacological model • • • • Where effects of intoxication cause criminal, especially violent, behaviour Consistent link between violent crime and alcohol Link largely refuted in regard to heroin and cannabis, some evidence with crack cocaine Social environment more of a powerful contributor to violence than effects of drugs
  14. 14. The economic model-drug use and acquisitive crime • • • • Increase in economically-motivated crimes after addiction and reduction after treatment programmes Garda study 1997 drug users responsible for 66% detected crime. 2004 study drug users responsible for 28% crime Increased employment and treatment possible explanation Public perception of high association between drug use and violent crime not reflected in rates of violent crime by users Drug users twice as likely to be caught offending as non-users
  15. 15. Two garda studies compared Keogh 1997 Furey and Browne 2004 Crime as main income source 59% 13% Unemployment rate 84% 55% Drug first used - cannabis 51% 55% First introduced to drugs by a friend 81% 86% Drugs sourced from local dealer 46% 76% Number who had been to prison 81% 66% Estimated daily expenditure €51 €75
  16. 16. Systemic crime – illicit drug markets as a cause of crime • • • • • • • • Understanding markets (Seizures, Price, Purity, Drug routes) Stabilisation of local drug markets over time local drug markets and community disturbance and anti-social behaviour Drug users have relatively easy access to drugs in own areas Local drug markets fear among local residents to co-operate with law enforcement due to reprisal from drug dealers Involvement of organised crime: Europol reports majority of suspects are Irish nationals or involving non-Irish nationals associates of Irish nationals Reports high levels of co-operation between Irish nationals across the drug market as ‘unique in European context How organised is organised crime? (New law 2009)
  17. 17. The common cause model • • • Drugs and crime common elements of delinquent or deviant lifestyle Drugs and crime not causally linked but both produced by underlying social factors such as inequality and deprivation Profile • • Single, male, aged 14 to 30, urban, living in the parental home, from large and often broken families, left school before the legal minimum age of 16, high levels of unemployment, best ever job being in the lowest socio-economic class, high number convictions and rates of recidivism, a history of family members being in prison, from local authority housing and areas of high levels of long-term unemployment. • • • • • • •
  18. 18. Summarising the link between drugs and crime • • • • • • • Most drug users do not commit crimes other than those of possession There is a link between some forms of illicit drug use and crime (Mostly heroin and cocaine). Most problematic users receive prison sentences for drug-related offences rather than drug offences Most problematic users began criminal career before drug use Drug use speeds up the rate of offending There is no clear causal link between drug use and crime Links between alcohol and violent crime exist in evidence
  19. 19. Drug market research in Ireland • • • • • • • • • • • • • The illicit drug market in Ireland (Connolly 2005) Crack cocaine in the Dublin region: an evidence base for a crack cocaine strategy (Connolly et al 2008) Methods included: In-depth interviews with users, sellers, drug treatment staff and police Criminal justice data Drug treatment data (National Drug Treatment Reporting System) Key findings included: Availability of crack cocaine originally centred in one Dublin city centre location Dublin city market originally dominated by non-Irish nationals Availability has extended beyond city centre hub into Dublin suburbs Price is high and stable – such pricing may deter use for many users Dealers employed a number of risk management strategies in response to policing – open market became closed Illicit drug markets in Ireland (Connolly, forthcoming 2012)
  20. 20. Who is most affected by drugrelated crime?
  21. 21. Community responses to street level drug markets
  22. 22. State response – Criminal Assets Bureau & New Drug Laws
  23. 23. Policing communities or community policing?
  24. 24. 1992 – Drug barons reign 1997 – Drug barons run
  25. 25. Changing nature of drug markets Hidden, Credit-based, Mobile, Violent, Younger
  26. 26. Consequences of drug markets for local communities • • • • • • • • Intimidation and violence No – go areas, particularly after dark Community stigma Development of gangs Perpetuation of cycle of violence Fear of reprisal Breakdown in community cooperation Failure of regeneration
  27. 27. Getting real about supply control • Third biggest market globally after oil and arms • Global value $94 billion, Wine & Beer $24 billion, Tobacco $21.6 • Street prices far higher massive profits from dealing • Retail value four times higher than the wholesale value • Little evidence supply control long-lasting impact on dealing levels – some evidence of containment/ displacement • Estimated that 10–20% available drugs seized • Amount undetected means long-term impact minimal • UK study 80% to be seized to have any real effect • Drug distribution adapt quickly, arrested dealers replaced • Demand inelastic for problematic users, relative to others • Increased prices may simply lead to more acquisitive crime
  28. 28. Is that a Celtic Tiger I see? Whose law and order?
  29. 29. Current approaches/challenges • • • • • • • National Drugs Strategy 2009-2016 Head shops and the internet Legislation and the GNDU Imprisonment Dial to stop dealing and intimidation Pilot - Family Support Group and GN Drugs Unit Joint Policing Committees and Local Policing Fora
  30. 30. Debates • • • • • Legalisation/decriminalisation Depenalisation The Portuguese solution The Dutch solution Community based mediation and problem solving – restorative justice
  31. 31. Go raibh maith agat JCONNOLLY@HRB.IE

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