The National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre is pleased to present:
Professor Alex Stevens (University of Kent, UK)
"Roads to recovery? Social control, public health and the current state of English drug policy"
Thursday 4 February, 3pm - 4pm
England provides an interesting case in drug policy analysis, as it has developed in successive phases over the last 30 years. The current emphasis on abstinence and recovery is overlaid on the previous emphasis on crime control, which itself overlapped with the previous focus on public health and the prevention of HIV. This paper uses the methods of process tracing, critical discourse analysis and participant observation of the policy-making process to identify the discursive influences that shape the development of English drug policy. It suggests that we can understand the current state of English drug policy as a product of the tension between the imperatives of social control and public health. Concern for individual freedom and human rights has, in contrast, been marginalised. The paper uses the contrasting responses to increases in deaths related to heroin and novel psychoactive substances to illustrate this dynamic pattern of policy development. It also discusses how these patterns fit with wider policies of austerity, privatisation and state surveillance under the current Conservative government. The paper develops the political economic approach to drug policy analysis and is currently being written as a chapter for the next edition of the Oxford Handbook of Criminology
About the speaker
Alex Stevens is Professor in Criminal Justice at the University of Kent, UK. He holds a Masters degree in Socio-Legal Studies and a PhD in Social Policy. His research interests include comparative criminology, drug use, drug treatment, drug policy, youth crime and the use of evidence in policy making. He has published extensively on these issues, including in the British Journal of Criminology and the International Journal of Drug Policy. He is a member of the editorial board of both these journals. He is also President of the International Society for the Study of Drug Policy and a member of the UK Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs. He has also published a book on Drugs, Crime and Public Health. In the summer and autumn of 2016, Alex is a visiting fellow at NDARC’s Drug Policy Modelling Program.