Swanswell project’s recognised in best practice awards

11 July 2011

Swanswell’s ‘reducing drug-related offending’ programme has received national recognition for best practice.

Swanswell - a national charity which wants to achieve a society free from problem alcohol and drug use - has received the accolade at the Howard League for Penal Reform’s Community Programme Awards 2011 championing the cutting edge of the criminal justice system.

Swanswell’s 12-session pilot programme was given the ‘runners up’ prize in the adult category at the ceremony, hosted by Private Eye Editor and TV personality Ian Hislop in London last week.

The ‘reducing drug-related offending’ project involved 360 people with drug misuse problems, including prolific offenders (those committing the most significant level of crime), who had been referred into treatment through the Criminal Justice system.

Structured one-to-0ne sessions cover a range of topics such as triggers of offending, how to avoid a risky situation, drug education and harm reduction – with the aim to reduce drug use and related offending behaviour.

The pilot has seen some impressive results. The amount of money participants spent on illegal drugs fell by 71% compared to before they had treatment. In addition, just over 15% of people completed the treatment drug free.

With estimated annual costs of drug-related crime in England and Wales totalling £15.4 billion (Gordon, L., et al. 2006) (1), Swanswell’s programme has the potential to reduce those costs by up to £2.4 billion (2), if these figures were mirrored nationally.

Frances Crook, Director of the Howard League for Penal Reform, said: ‘The Howard League for Penal Reform is recognising the country’s most successful community programmes at our Community Sentences Cut Crime conference.

This is a wonderful opportunity to promote excellence in our criminal justice system and praise the people who bring down crime in their area.’

Debbie Bannigan, Swanswell’s Chief Executive, said: ‘We’re delighted to have been recognised for this innovative project that has the potential to change thousands of lives for the better.

Swanswell’s programme tackles the underlying cause of someone’s offending and identifies ways of avoiding potentially risky situations, reducing the possibility of them getting involved in crime again.’


  1. Gordon, L., Tinsley, L., Godfrey, C. And Parrott, S. 2006. The economic and social costs of Class A drug use in England and Wales 2003/04. In Singleton, N., Murray, R. And Tinsley, L (eds), Measuring different aspects of problem drug use: methodological developments. Home Office Online Report 16/06
  2. A simple estimate of cost savings is based on Swanswell’s pilot result of 15.3% of people completing the programme, case closed, drug free. It is assumed here that all of the 15.3% will not commit drug-related crime again. 15.3% of £15.4 billion = £2.4 billion.







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