Review of approaches taken in Ireland and in other jurisdictions to simple possession drug offences: A report for the Irish Department of Justice and Equality and the Department of Health

Caitlin Hughes, Alex Stevens, Shann Hulme, Rebecca Cassidy

Research output: Book/ReportCommissioned report

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Abstract

Many countries are considering alternatives to criminalisation of simple possession drug offences. This report reviewed approaches taken in Ireland and nine other jurisdictions to simple possession drug offences with the aim of identifying alternative approach options that would be possible in the Irish context. It was conducted for the Irish Department of Justice & Equality and the Department of Health (and the working group on this issue) over the period May to September 2018. The report commenced with an overview of the current legislative regime that applies to simple possession offences in Ireland and the rationale underpinning this approach, and any evidence of its effectiveness. A rapid realist review was conducted of the international evidence on alternatives to simple possession following the RAMESES protocol (Realist And Meta-narrative Evidence Syntheses: Evolving Standards) (Wong, Greenhalgh, Westhorp, Buckingham, & Pawson, 2013), focusing on the evidence from nine nations with alternative approaches: Australia, Czech Republic, Denmark, England and Wales, Germany, Jamaica, the Netherlands, Portugal and the United States of America (USA). A coding schedule was devised that covered the context, mechanisms and outcomes of the approaches (intended and unintended) on the individual, the family and society, the criminal justice system (CJS) and the health system. A total of 6198 records were initially identified and 158 were included for extraction. Two forms of analysis were conducted. First, literature on the context, mechanisms and outcomes of the reforms was synthesised for each country. Secondly, qualitative comparative analysis was used to produce an empirically based, theoretically informed typology of six alternative approaches to deal with simple possession offences, extrapolating across countries. Advantages and disadvantages were then synthesised for each policy option. This shows that there are many different options that could be taken in Ireland, each of which offers potential benefits including for people who possess drugs, for the criminal justice system, for taxpayers and for other service providers.
Original languageEnglish
PublisherUNSW Australia and University of Kent
Commissioning bodyIrish Department of Justice and Equality and the Department of Health
Number of pages92
Publication statusPublished - 2 Aug 2019
Externally publishedYes
EventIrish Government response to the report - outlining proposed adoption of police diversion schemes for first and second offence involving use and possession of any illicit drug - Ireland, Dublin, Ireland
Duration: 2 Aug 20192 Aug 2019
http://www.justice.ie/en/JELR/Final_Report_of_the_Working_Group.pdf/Files/Final_Report_of_the_Working_Group.pdf

Bibliographical note

This work can be used in accordance with the Creative Commons BY-NC-ND license.

Keywords

  • drug laws
  • drug policy
  • decriminalisation
  • depenalisation
  • diversion
  • Ireland
  • Australia
  • Portugal
  • Czech Republic
  • Denmark
  • Germany
  • Netherlands
  • Jamaica
  • USA
  • UK
  • crime policy
  • health policy

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