New figures show treatment key to reducing drug-related offending

19 March 2012

Swanswell’s welcoming new research showing the number of crimes committed by known drug-dependent offenders has fallen by almost half, following completion of successful treatment.

Swanswell, a national charity which wants to achieve a society free from problem alcohol and drug use, is encouraged by the results of  a new study, released by the National Treatment Agency for Substance Misuse (NTA) today (19 March 2012).

Researchers compared data from the National Drug Treatment Monitoring System (NDTMS) with conviction rates from the Police National Computer for almost 20,000 known offenders, who started treatment in 2006-07.

They then looked at the differences in conviction rates between the two years before entering treatment and the two years after.

Convictions reduced by up to 48% for those who completed treatment successfully after at least six months or who were retained, the study found.

Swanswell’s developed a programme which has achieved similar results. The Reducing Drug-Related Offending programme is an innovative 12-session programme to reduce drug use and related offending behaviour.

It followed a pilot which involved 360 people with drug misuse problems in Birmingham, including prolific offenders, who had been referred in to treatment through the criminal justice system.

Structured one-to-one sessions cover a range of topics such as triggers of offending, how to avoid a risky situation, drug education and harm reduction.

Swanswell’s pilot has achieved 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 (Swanswell Impact Report, 2011).

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 billion2, if these figures were mirrored nationally.

Debbie Bannigan, Swanswell’s Chief Executive, said: ‘We welcome the results of the study today, which show a marked reduction in the number of crimes committed by known drug-dependent offenders, after they’ve received treatment.

Although it’s the person who commits the crime and not the drugs, using illicit substances can be one of the reasons behind the offending.

So if we can work with people to understand and tackle the root cause of drug-related offending, as today’s results and the results of our own programme show, it can make a big difference to people’s lives and those of the community.’


    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
In Singleton, N., Murray, R. And Tinsley, L (eds), Measuring different aspects of problem drug use: methodological
. 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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