Examine the connection between crime and drug use, indicating which criminological theories best assist our understanding of drug related crimes. Drugs and crime are of concern to all communities, particularly drug possession, manufacture and trafficking, the involvement of criminal syndicates in the drugs trade, the acquisitive crime committed by drug misusing offenders to feed their habits, and the anti-social behaviour and feeling of menace that the drug culture generates within neighbourhoods.
Many police forces estimate that around half of all recorded crime has some drug related element to it, whether in terms of individual consumption or supply of drugs, or the consequent impact of it on criminal behaviour. 1 This essay will seek to examine the connection between drugs and crime. It will aim to define what a 'drug' is, the extent to drug use among offenders, the volume of crime committed in order to obtain drugs, or feed drug habits and also the sorts of crimes committees using drugs as an aid e. g. date rape. The use of illegal and legal drugs will be looked at in their connection to crime.
This essay will concentrate mainly upon the problem of drug use in relation to crime in the UK, with an occasional consideration of the problem in the USA. It will also indicate which criminological theories best assist our understanding of drug related crimes. Initially, we will look at the definition of a drug. Technically 'a drug is and substance which modifies the functions of an organism'. 2 Alcohol and heroine are both considered depressants, whereas caffeine, tobacco and amphetamines are all stimulants. Other drugs such as LSD and cannabis can distort the users perceptions.
However, the physical properties of are drug is not related to the approval it is met with in society. Drugs are used for a variety of reasons. Doctors to aid the healing of a patient prescribe many drugs; alcohol is used for relaxation and sociability. Therefore, many drugs are seen as perfectly normal. There is a very fine line that divides normal and abnormal drug use, and this will vary across societies. Alcohol can be encouraged in some cultures, but prohibited in others. In countries such as Dubai, alcohol is illegal, and being caught drinking by the police anywhere other than a licensed bar can be severely punished.
Also, using drugs to treat an illness is seen as perfectly normal, while using the same drugs for non-medical purposes is seen as abnormal. Drugs become a problem when 'misuse' or 'abuse' of a drug starts. For example excessive drinking is associated with abuse, as is the use of illegal drugs. Cannabis, amphetamines, heroin, cocaine, LSD and ecstasy are the most widely used illegal drugs, and it is these drugs that are controlled by the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971. In the UK, illegal drugs are classified into three main categories. They can be Class A (e. g. Heroin), B (e. g. Cannabis) or C (e. g.
'Poppers'), with A attracting the most serious punishments and fines. Under the Misuse of Drugs Act, it is an offence to unlawfully possess a controlled drug, to possess a controlled drug with intent to supply it, to unlawfully supply (sell/give/share) a controlled drug or to allow premises you occupy or manage to be used for the smoking or use of drugs. As can be seen, selling, producing or using some drugs are in themselves acts of criminality, as is driving under the influence of drugs. While these account for many offences, greater fears are aroused by the extent to which taking drugs leads to secondary crime.
This can happen in several ways. Much of the drugs industry is associated with organised crime, with the manufacture, distribution and sale of prohibited drugs. It is very difficult to estimate the extent and impact of this form of crime. Organised crime supplies an enormous range of prohibited services and commodities and produces, distributes and sells a range of products, including drugs. Drugs can be 'trafficked', and drugs money is laundered in a variety of illegal and semi-illegal ways, such as counterfeiting. Trafficking in illicit drugs tends to be associated with the commission of violent crimes.
Reasons for the relationship of drug trafficking to violence include the competition for drug markets and customers, disputes and rip-offs among individuals involved in the illegal drug market. Individuals who participate in drug trafficking are prone to using violence and locations where street drug markets proliferate tend to be disadvantaged economically and socially; legal and social controls against violence in such areas tend to be ineffective. One of the most important elements of this so-called secondary criminality is the link between property crime and drugs.
Obviously, drug users require large amounts of money to fund their habit, and as they are rarely able to meet the demand for these costs through legitimate sources, they need to commit crime. An out of control drug user is likely to 'commit 80 to 100 serious property offences per year, or if female, resort to prostitution'. 3 Drug-related crime is not only a problem when considering illegal drugs. It is well known that 'pub-fights' are the main part of any policeman/woman's job on a Saturday night. Alcohol can sometimes seem to alter a person's personality, with sometimes devastating results.
In a survey carries out among victims of crime, about 28% of the victims of violence reported that the offender was using drugs, alone or in combination with alcohol. Based on victim perceptions, about 1. 2 million violent crimes occurred each year in which victims were certain that the offender had been drinking. For about 1 in 4 of these violent victimizations involving alcohol use by the offender, victims believed the offender was also using drugs at the time of the offence. The table over the page shows the percentage in convicted inmates whose crime was committed in order to obtain drugs, and also the type of crime committed.