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The impact of a police crackdown on a street drug scene : evidence from the street

journal contribution
posted on 2002-09-01, 00:00 authored by C Aitken, D Moore, P Higgs, J Kelsall, M Kerger
This article documents the impact of a police crackdown on a street heroin market in a suburb of Melbourne, Australia, as perceived by individuals involved in the market. While our data suggest that ‘Operation Clean Heart’ achieved its objective of reducing the visible aspects of this street drug scene, they also imply that the drug market rapidly adapted to its new conditions and that the impact of the operation was essentially superficial and temporary. In addition, we contend that the operation had numerous (unintended) negative consequences, some of which are potentially harmful to public health. Negative outcomes implied by our data included the partial displacement of the drug scene to nearby metropolitan areas; the discouragement of safe injecting practice and safe needle and syringe disposal; and more frequent occurrences of violence and fraud. These outcomes may outweigh the perceived positive impacts, which were achieved at significant public expense. We conclude that police crackdowns are inappropriate responses to illicit drug problems; instead, in line with longstanding Australian policy, approaches which incorporate and balance demand reduction, supply reduction and harm reduction principles should be followed.

History

Journal

International journal of drug policy

Volume

13

Issue

3

Pagination

193 - 202

Publisher

Elsevier BV

Location

Amsterdam, Netherlands

ISSN

0955-3959

eISSN

1873-4758

Language

eng

Notes

External

Publication classification

C1 Refereed article in a scholarly journal

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