Associate Professor Caitlin Hughes

  • Source: Scopus
  • Calculated based on no. of publications stored in Pure and citations from Scopus

Research activity per year

If you made any changes in Pure these will be visible here soon.

Personal profile

Research Biography

Caitlin is an Associate Professor in criminology and drug policy and Matthew Flinders Fellow at the Centre for Crime Policy and Research, Flinders University. Caitlin has spent 17 years researching drug and alcohol policy, including 12.5 years at the National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre, UNSW, working as part of the Drug Policy Modelling Program - one of the leading drug policy research centres in the world. Having joined Flinders University in July 2019 her research seeks to advance Australian and international drug policy by improving the evidence-base into the effects of different legislative and law enforcement approaches to drug use and supply and working directly with policy makers. Her research focuses on 1) drug laws and drug law reform (including depenalisation, decriminalisation, legalisation), 2) criminal justice policies (including policing and alternatives to arrest) and 3) drug markets, outlining what laws and policies are deployed, how they operate in practice, the impacts of this investment and identifying avenues for more effective responses that can reduce drug-related health, social and criminal justice harms.

Caitlin engages extensively with policy makers, law enforcement and health officials from across and outside of Australia, including the Commonwealth Department of Health, the Australian Federal Police, Australian Customs and Border Control, NSW Bureau of Crime Statistics and Research, NSW Police, Victoria Police, ACT Police, ACT Health Directorate, the Irish Department of Justice and Equality and Department of Health, the British Colombia Police and the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime. She has been a member of the Australian Civil Society for United Nations Drug Policy since 2019 and attended the 62nd and 63rd United Nations Commission on Narcotics Drug Meetings in Vienna as part of the Australian civil society delegation (2019 and 2020). Her work has contributed to many policy and practice reforms, including the expansion of drug diversion programs for use/ possess offenders and the reform of drug trafficking thresholds law “to ensure laws target traffickers not users”.

Caitlin is also Visiting Fellow at the National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre, UNSW, Senior Research Associate, International Drug Policy Unit, London School of Economics and Vice-President of the International Society for the Study of Drug Policy and is on the editorial board for the International Journal of Drug Policy and the Journal of Illicit Economies and Development.

Research Interests

Nationally Competitive Category 1 Grants 

Hughes, Ritter, Weatherburn, Maccoun. 2014-2016. Drug law enforcement policy: The deterrent effects of Australian policing strategies. Australian Research Council – Discovery Project (DP150100910).

Ritter, Hughes, Hoppe. 2013-2014. The science-policy interface in policy theories: A comparative case study of street-level policing for illicit drugs. Australian Research Council – Discovery Project (DP140100219).

Shanahan, Hughes, McSweeney. 2014-2015. Australian police diversion for cannabis offences: Assessing program outcomes and cost-effectiveness. National Drug Law Enforcement Research Fund. 

Hughes, Chalmers, Bright, McFadden. 2013-2014. Trafficking in multiple commodities: Exposing Australia’s poly-drug and poly-crime networks. National Drug Law Enforcement Research Fund. 

Ritter, Chalmers, Hughes. 2008-2009. Examining the effectiveness of different types of law enforcement interventions directed towards methamphetamine. National Drug Law Enforcement Research Fund. 

Selected Tenders 

Hughes, Bright, Gundur. 2020. The impacts of COVID-19 on illicit drug trafficking and supply in Australia.  Flinders University College of Business, Government and Law COVID-19 Grant Scheme. 

Barratt, Hughes, Ferris, Winstock. 2019. Patterns of emergency medical treatment seeking following alcohol and other drug use among Australian festival-goers. NSW Coroner.

Hughes, Hulme, Ritter. 2019. The relationship between price, purity and population-level drug-related harm: A rapid review. Australian Institute of Criminology. 

Stevens, Hughes, Hulme, Cassidy. 2018. Review of approaches taken in Ireland and in other jurisdictions to simple possession drug offences. Government of Ireland - Department of Justice and Equality.

Hughes, Ritter, Mazerolle, Seear. 2018. Criminal justice responses relating to personal possession of illicit drugs. Commonwealth Department of Health. 

Hughes, Shanahan, Ritter, Vuong. 2017. Developing a program logic and evaluation framework for an ACT Drug and Alcohol Court. ACT Justice and Community Safety Directorate.

Shanahan, Hughes. 2017. Cannabis cautioning in NSW. NSW Police. 

Hughes, Ritter, Shanahan, McDonald. 2012. Consultant to evaluate the Australian Capital Territory Drug Diversion programs. ACT Health Directorate. 

Hughes, Ritter, Cowdery. 2011. Using evidence to evaluate Australian drug trafficking thresholds: Proportionate, equitable and just? Criminology Research Council. 

Current projects

Building procedural justice in Australian street-level drug law enforcement 

Drug law enforcement subsumes 64% of Australian Government expenditure on illicit drugs, but current approaches are often ineffective and counterproductive. New research suggests this may reflect the perceived legitimacy of approaches. This study will use a purpose-built module in the 2019 Global Drug Survey to: assess how procedurally just Australian policing approaches are perceived by people who use drugs; benchmark procedural justice levels against other Western nations; and identify predictors of and methods to heighten procedural justice, police cooperation and offending reductions. This will build Australian capacity for more effective law enforcement responses to drug-related crime.

The Global Drug Survey COVID-19 

The COVID-19 pandemic has caused unparalleled disruption in many areas of our lives: including via lockdowns, social distancing requirements and significant reductions in air and sea trade. There are many signs this has also impacted drug and alcohol consumption and service provision but also that experiences may vary across the globe. GDS COVID-19 will thus examine the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on drug and alcohol use, employment, relationships, mental health and wellbeing across the globe - focusing particularly on impacts in Australia, New Zealand, UK, USA, Canada, Germany and Italy. It will also explore drug policy responses including the incidence and nature of policing of people who use drugs and access to drug treatment and harm reduction during the COVID-19 pandemic. To take part go to:

Australians' Drug Use: Adapting to Pandemic Threats (ADAPT) Study

The ADAPT study is exploring the short and long-term impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on the experiences of Australians who regularly use illicit drugs - including patterns of substance use and access to treatment or harm reduction services. This is a three year cohort study. Participants are given the option to take part just in the baseline or to take part in all six waves. For more details or to take part go to:


External positions

Visiting Fellow, National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre

1 Jul 2019 → …

Vice-President, International Society for the Study of Drug Policy

22 May 2019 → …


Dive into the research topics where Caitlin Hughes is active. These topic labels come from the works of this person. Together they form a unique fingerprint.
  • 12 Similar Profiles


Recent external collaboration on country/territory level. Dive into details by clicking on the dots or