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Drugs: Crime

Volume 489: debated on Tuesday 10 March 2009

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what information her Department has collected on the relationship between retail theft and (a) drug and (b) alcohol addiction; and if she will make a statement. (260061)

The relationship between any crime and drug or alcohol misuse is complex. There is some evidence which points to the relationship between acquisitive crimes and drug misuse. The links between acquisitive crime and alcohol are less clear in the current evidence base. The information held by the Department does not focus specifically on retail theft, but focuses on the broader categories of ‘theft’ or ‘acquisitive crime’.

The Department has commissioned a number of studies which provide information on the relationship between acquisitive crime and drug/or alcohol use. In addition, monitoring data from the Drug Interventions Programme (DIP) are routinely collated.

The Arrestee Survey: provides information on arrestees’ self-reported offending while using drugs and reported crimes committed in order to buy/get hold of drugs. The survey also provides data for the number of arrestees who are assessed on the basis of a validated tool as being ‘alcohol dependent’.

The Drug Treatment Outcomes Research Study: is a representative study of drug treatment-seekers in England and Wales. The findings from this survey provide information on the number of treatment-seekers who had committed offences prior to interview, the number committing offences in order to buy drugs, and the numbers committing offences while under the influence of drugs.

The Offending Crime and Justice Survey, a survey of offending among young people in the general population, asks whether offenders who had committed ‘other thefts’ (including retail but not limited to) had taken alcohol or drugs at the time of the offence.

The Drug Interventions Programme provides information on the number of positive drug tests (class A, specifically heroin, crack and cocaine) in 107 basic command units (BCUs) for those arrested and charged with a number of trigger offences, including theft.