Drug related crime reduced after treatment

Drug related crime reduced after treatment

By William Smith

Research which was conducted by the National Treatment Agency for substance Misuse (NTA) has found that the number of crimes committed by known drug-dependent offenders fell by almost half after the offenders successfully completed a drug rehabilitation programme.

This is claimed to be the largest empirical study every conducted in England on the impact of drug treatment on crime.  It shows a similar decrease in convictions among those who have been retained in treatment for up to two years and also finds that the longer an individual is retained the bigger the decrease in convictions.

The NTA study researchers compared data from the National Drug Treatment System (NDTMS) with conviction records from the Police National computer.  Almost 20,000 known offenders who were mainly heroin addicts and who had begun their treatment in 2006-2007, were considered in this study.

The researchers compared the differences in conviction rates between the two year prior to entering treatment and the two years after.  It was found that the number of convictions was reduced by 47-48% in those who successfully completed treatment after at least six months or those who were retained.

The next step was to compare the differences in conviction rates between the two years before entering treatment.  Just over half of the participants discontinued their treatment altogether during the two years after their assessment.  The re-offending in this group accounted for three-quarters of the conviction during that period.  The fall in conviction among those who remained in treatment was three times greater than those who discontinued treatment.

It has been seen in previous studies that the reduction of crime starts immediately that an individual enters treatment and continues for the entire time that the individual remains in treatment.  This is the first of its kind study to report on the continuing post-treatment crime reduction benefits for the rising number of individuals who are completing treatment successfully and then continue to sustain their recovery in the community.

The study is entitled ‘The Impact of Drug Treatment on Reconviction’.  It showed that:

  • Individuals who were retained in treatment for the entire two-year research period reduced their convictions by 47%.
  • Individuals who successfully completed a drug treatment programme after at least six months reduced their convictions by 48%.
  • The most dramatic falls in convictions were for soliciting (59%), and fraud or forgery (57%).
  • The biggest single reduction in offences was almost 11,000 fewer thefts, a 24% fall.
  • Heroin and crack addicts were twice as likely to have convictions before treatment than other drug users.


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