School of Law

The Evolution of UK Drug Strategies and the Recovery Agenda

28 January 2013 | 14:00h | Seminar
Liberty Building SR (1.08)

CCJS Public Seminar

By Mark Monaghan

In the first CCJS Public Seminar of 2013, Dr Mark Monaghan will review contemporary drug policy.

He will suggest that, whilst contemporary drug strategies are still informed by the notion of a ‘drugs-crime’ nexus, there has been, since 2008, a notable change in the government’s strategic priorities in this area.

It will be suggested that the increased use of conditionality and efforts to ‘nudge’ individuals to change their risky behaviours are indicative of the creeping moralisation witnessed in UK social policy in recent decades. 

The idea that certain kinds of drugs and drug use are intrinsically linked to certain kinds of criminality – known as the drugs-crime nexus - enjoys continuing salience. Since 1995, successive strategies have been developed to try and increase the numbers of drug users entering treatment in a bid to drive down crime rates.

Drawing on a review of the relevant literature and an analysis of successive drug strategies and related policy documents, this paper argues that, although contemporary drug policy is still underpinned by such notions, the suggested means by which crime rates are to be reduced is gradually shifting.

From 2008, there has been a notable change in the strategic priorities of government in this area. This has entailed an increasing use of conditionality in the benefits system coupled with an overt desire to ‘nudge’ those engaging in risky behaviours to amend their ways. This seems to be related to a steady disillusionment with methadone maintenance treatment and a desire to solve the drug-crime problem by promoting the goal of ‘recovery’ culminating in abstinence.

This talk argues that such developments are part of a creeping moralisation that has re-emerged in UK social policy over recent decades.

Further information

For further information, please contact Dr Sam Lewis at  or on telephone: 0113 343 2529.

Poster for event

Location Details

School of Law
The Liberty Building
University of Leeds

The Liberty Building is No. 16 on the campus map.

There is limited car-parking available on campus at a charge of £5.00.

Parking spaces are available on campus for blue badge holders. Please contact 0113 343 5491 or for further details.

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