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Policing of Drugs in Scotland: Moving beyond the stalemate to redesigning the chess board

Fotopoulou, Maria; Aston, Elizabeth


Maria Fotopoulou


M. Bacon

J. Spicer


This chapter aims to illuminate aspects of the risk environment within which drugs are consumed and policed in Scotland. Firstly, we focus on the macro-level policy context and legislation that governs the way policing of drugs is carried out in Scotland, including the 1971 Misuse of Drugs Act and the Police and Fire Reform (Scotland) Act 2012. Then, we discuss the leeway afforded by meso- and micro-level policy and policing practices in Scotland and other jurisdictions to illustrate how different approaches create contexts that limit or enable harm reduction policing. We move on to consider policing practices used in Scotland, including stop and search, diversion, and other criminal justice measures, highlighting the consequences of these for people who use drugs. We conclude that while the language of the policy context signals a progressive approach, there is a gap between policy and practice. We call for further consideration to be given to ameliorating the harms resulting from the legislative and policy context that governs the drug problem in the United Kingdom and Scotland, with the aim being to safeguard public health and respect the human rights of people who use drugs and strive for social justice for them, their families, and their communities.

Acceptance Date Sep 14, 2021
Online Publication Date Dec 30, 2022
Publication Date Dec 30, 2022
Deposit Date Jun 7, 2022
Publicly Available Date Dec 31, 2024
Publisher Routledge
Book Title Drug law enforcement, policing and harm reduction: Ending the stalemate
Chapter Number 7
ISBN 9780367722692
Keywords policing, drugs, harm reduction
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