Dr Caitlin Hughes


image - Caitlin Hughes Square

Research Interests:
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 Australian 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, and the role of law enforcement relative to other aspects of drug policy.

Projects include: the impacts of the Portuguese decriminalisation of illicit drug use; mapping out police and criminal justice diversionary policies throughout Australia; identifying optimum policing responses for responding to MDMA; evaluating legal threshold limits for serious drug trafficking offences; assessing the deterrent effects of street-level drug law enforcement; social network analysis of drug markets; and mapping inter-relationships between high-level drug trafficking and other forms of serious and organised crime. Her current projects include 1) Quantifying the reach of Australian drug diversion programs for use and possession of illicit drugs and barriers and faciliators to expansion; 2) Policing of illicit drugs at Australian music festivals; and 3) Drug-related policing and perceptions of police legitimacy: A cross-national comparison.  

Broad Research Areas: Crime policy, Drug law enforcement, 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:

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.

University role: 
Senior Lecturer


Socio-economic Objective (SEO) tags: 
Public Services Policy Advice and Analysis
Criminal Justice
Law Reform
Teaching & Supervision
I am available to supervise: 
Areas of supervision: 

Drugs and crime; impacts of drug laws, policing and criminal justice policies; drug law reform; police and court diversion; drug markets, supply and trafficking; drug policy more generally.

Currently supervising: 

Vivienne Moxham-Hall - PhD Student - Topic: Investigating the utility of indexes for drug policy analysis

Shann Hulme - PhD Student - Topic: The supply and diversion of pharmaceuticals for non-medical use

Benjamin Mostyn  - PhD Student - Topic: The role of the executive in Australian Commonwealth drug policy following the 1988 Drug Convention

Christopher Eassey - PhD Student - Topic: Re-thinking harm reduction strategies in Sydney’s night-time economy: A cross-national comparative analysis


Supervision keywords: 
comparative law
drug markets
drug policy