NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

England Shares Drug-Crime Problem

May 14, 1999

Drug-related crimes are usually considered primarily an American problem. But a new study from the National Institute of Justice -- the research arm of the U.S. Department of Justice -- establishes that England shares that problem.

While the types of illegal drugs involved differ between the two countries, rates of use among criminals arrested are similar.

  • Some 55 percent of suspects arrested in England said they had used a psychoactive drug within the previous three days -- compared to slightly more than half in America.
  • The report said that 35 percent of Americans arrested were charged with personal crimes of violence like robbery -- compared to 16 percent of the English arrestees.
  • English criminals are more likely than Americans to finance their drug habits through shoplifting.
  • Those arrested in England were more likely to have used heroin and amphetamines -- while their American counterparts were more likely dependent on cocaine.

The difference in choice of drugs may stem from the availability factor. England is situated on drug routes of opium-producing countries such as Myanmar, Pakistan and Iran. Americans may use more cocaine because it comes from Colombia and other Andean countries close to the U.S.

Source: Christopher S. Wren, "Study Compares U.S. and English Drug Crimes," New York Times, May 14, 1999.


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