Dr Hughes is a criminologist and Senior Research Fellow at the National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre. She works as part of the multi-disciplinary Drug Policy Modelling Program (DPMP) which seeks to improve drug policy by identifying what works, translating research evidence and engaging directly with policy makers.
Dr Hughes' prime focus is improving understanding of the effects of different legislative regimes and law enforcement approaches by outlining what laws and policies are deployed, how they operate in practice, assessing the criminal justice, health and social impacts of this investment, and identifying avenues for more effective responses. Projects of note include the deterrent effects of street-level drug law enforcement, the police use of drug detection dogs, the reach and cost-effectiveness of Australian drug diversion programs, the impacts of the Portuguese decriminalisation of illicit drug use and recent work for the Irish Government evaluating the social, health and criminal justice impacts of alternatives to arrest for simple drug possession in nine countries (Australia, Czech Republic, Denmark, Germany, Jamaica, the Netherlands, Portugal, UK and the USA). She also examines Australian trends in illicit drug markets, including the supply of MDMA, methamphetamine and pharmaceutical opioids, and methods for preventing and disrupting supply.
Her current research is looking at a range of topics including: a) festival safety - looking at patterns of drug use at festivals and impacts of policing on drug-related harms; b) comparing drug-related policing and perceptions of police legitimacy in Australia and 30 other countries; c) developing empirically based models for the decriminalisation, diversion and depenalisation of illicit drug possession and d) the supply of pharmaceutical drugs for non-medical use in Australia.
Broad Research Areas: Crime policy, Drug law enforcement, Drug laws and regulations, Drug markets, Drug Related Harm
Qualifications: BA (Hons), BSc, PhD
Specific Research Keywords: Drug policy; Drug laws; Policing and criminal justice responses; Comparative policy analysis; Drug trafficking and organised crime; Public policy; Crime policy
Society Memberships & Professional Activities:
Vice-President Elect - International Society for the Study of Drug Policy
Editorial board - International Journal of Drug Policy and Journal of Illicit Economies and Development.
Member - International Society for the Study of Drug Policy; Australian and New Zealand Society of Criminology; European Society of Criminology; and UNSW Criminology and Criminal Justice Research Network.