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Service Provision for Detainees With Problematic Drug and Alcohol Use in Police Detention: A Comparative Study of Selected Countries in the European Union

NCJ Number
Morag MacDonald; Susie Atherton; Daniele Berto; Antanas Bukauskas; Christine Graebsch; Emanuel Parasanau; Ivan Popov; Afrodita Qaramah; Heino Stover; Peter Sarosi; Kert Valdaru
Date Published
27 pages
This report summarizes data on the provision of services for police detainees with problematic drug and alcohol use in eight European countries: Bulgaria, England and Wales, Estonia, Germany, Hungary, Italy, Lithuania, and Romania.
Existing drug strategies for police detainees in the eight countries had both positive and negative elements. The core positive element was a focus on harm minimization that aimed to improve the basic health of those with problematic substance use by attracting them into treatment. Problems noted by those interviewed in the various countries studied were the lack of distinction between drug users and drug dealers (Bulgaria and Italy), the focus on prevention at the expense of harm reduction, and the failure of law to distinguish between types of drugs used (Italy, Romania, and Bulgaria). Even when harm reduction was emphasized in the drug strategy, it was difficult to implement due to inadequate resources and negative attitudes of police personnel toward detainees with problematic drug and/or alcohol use. Recommendations are offered in the areas of drug policy, staff and training, access to drug and alcohol treatment, health care, and cooperation and coordination across the components of the criminal justice system. Regarding drug policy, it is recommended that law and policy reforms focus on reducing the criminalization of personal drug use and reducing the use of arrest and imprisonment for drug users who are not involved in violent crimes. Regarding staff and training, it is recommended that police officers be trained to facilitate treatment and health care for problematic substance abusers in their custody. Regarding access to drug and alcohol treatment, it is recommended that maintenance therapy be available during police detention in order to ensure that detainees do not experience a gap in treatment services received prior to their detention. 13 references


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