Is UK drug policy evidence-based?

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    All public services in the UK are expected to produce evidence-based policies. This principle was argued particularly strongly in relation to policies for tackling drug misuse. However, concerns have been expressed that commitment to this principle is not matched by the reality of policy making. In this paper, we examine the extent to which the UK drug strategy can be regarded as evidence-based.

    Focusing on case studies of policies implemented as part of the four main strands of the strategy, evidence reported by the government as forming the basis of the policy is examined as are findings of the published sources of evidence cited.

    In most cases, the evidence was of a good quality in that it reflected the general standard of research in the area. The main problem lies in the interpretation and reporting of research results. Two of four case studies were reported as biased in terms of research study selection and in two there was some evidence that the reporting was not wholly representative of the conclusions drawn.

    There are many factors that influence the generation of policy and it is unrealistic, and perhaps disingenuous, to suggest in relation to drugs policy, that evidence is its primary focus.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)411 - 417
    Number of pages6
    JournalInternational Journal of Drug Policy
    Issue number5
    Early online date26 Mar 2010
    Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 26 Mar 2010


    • evidence-based practice
    • drug and narcotic control
    • policy
    • drug strategy
    • evidence informed


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