Four charts — property crime and the availability of drug treatment
Today the ONS have produced an analysis of property crime. As the chart above shows the long term trend in falls for these crimes continues.
One of the theories as to why there have been such sustained falls is about the prevalence of problematic drug use. Analysis of available data for the Home Office found that heroin and crack use:
could account for at least half of the rise in acquisitive crime in England and Wales to 1995 and between a quarter and a third of the fall to 2012, as the epidemic cohort aged, received treatment, quit illicit drug use or died.
The chart below — which I’ve taken from the Home Office paper — shows the rise in the number of heroin and crack users, and the response by government to increase treatment system’s ability to cope with the number of users.
New research confirms that drug treatment continues to have an important impact on the levels of crime committed by people who use heroin and crack, even in the very short term. The authors of the research say:
The results observed here demonstrate that, in the face of marked changes in the English drug treatment population, the positive improvement in behavioural outcomes observed in previous studies has been sustained. Positive changes were observed in the short term but did not necessarily equate to abstention from all drug taking and offending behaviour.
The final chart is from data collected from the Drug Intervention Programme in Merseyside and analysed by the Centre for Public Health at Liverpool John Moores University.
Of the 9.8 thousand drug tests carried over the year half came back positive, and of those half included heroin, or another opiate (with very large numbers also testing positive for cocaine at the same time).
Of those tested (including those who didn’t test positive) almost half (46%) were under arrest for theft, and a further 11% for burglary.
While Merseyside may be exceptional, it feels clear to me that drug users continue to play a significant part in the levels of crime that communities experience and that treatment remains a cost effective and important tool in reducing crime further.