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Policing Alcohol-related Crime in the UK: Would a Public Health Approach in Alcohol-related Crime Reduction Strategies Help Maximise Success?

NCJ Number
Crime Prevention and Community Safety: An International Journal Volume: 3 Issue: 4 Dated: 2001 Pages: 47-54
Ann Deehan
Rob Mawby
Date Published
8 pages
This article reports on a study to explore the possible benefits of applying alcohol-related public health interventions by the police to arrestees in the United Kingdom.
This study began by examining the reasons why alcohol-related public health policy has not filtered into the criminal justice system in the United Kingdom, as has drug use public policy. This article discusses the link between crime prevention and public health policy, national policy context, local policy context, the role and work environment of the police, barriers to police engaging with intoxicated offenders, potential for public health alcohol interventions in the criminal justice system, and potential target groups. The possible roles that police can legitimately have in such a policy are explored. The provision of health promotional materials to individuals in custody is thought to be unlikely to be a useful method. The use of diversion or referral schemes are discussed as being potentially effective due to the fact that police contact may come at a vulnerable point in the life of the individual who may be willing to consider quitting substance abuse. Delayed cautioning, which is returning at a later date, after release, for cautioning, has been found to be an option worth considering. It is argued that an alcohol public health element in crime reduction strategy should focus on the problematic alcohol user rather than the alcohol-dependent user, and it is recommended that the police custody suite may be the ideal setting for public health intervention to begin.