Swanswell’s reducing drug-related offending programme shortlisted for national award

02 June 2011

Swanswell’s innovative ‘reducing drug-related offending’ programme has been shortlisted for a prestigious national award.

Swanswell - a national charity which wants to achieve a society free from problem alcohol and drug use - has been recognised by the Howard League for Penal Reform for the pilot it ran in Birmingham.

It involved 360 people with drug misuse problems, including prolific offenders (those who commit the most significant level of crime), who had been referred in to treatment through the Criminal Justice system.

The structured one-to-one sessions covered 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.

Debbie Bannigan, Swanswell’s Chief Executive, said: ‘It’s fantastic news that our reducing drug-related offending project has been shortlisted for a national award that recognises efforts to tackle substance misuse in the community.

We think our programme has the potential to save billions of pounds for the nation and most importantly, could help improve the lives of thousands of people who may not otherwise have received the necessary support to change and be happy.’

Swanswell’s shortlisted in the Adult category of the Community Programme Awards 2011 with the winners announced at the Howard League for Penal Reform’s national one-day conference, ‘Community Sentences Cut Crime’, on Wednesday 6 July 2011.


  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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