Police-led drug diversion: in practice and theory

Event date
10 May 2023
Event time
15:00 - 16:00
Oxford week
TT 3
Faculty of Law - Seminar Room D

Professor Alex Stevens, University of Kent. 

Notes & Changes

British police forces are increasing interested in diverting people who are involved with illicit drugs away from formal prosecution and towards education and/or treatment services. Randomised trials of diversion on Durham and the West Midlands suggest that they can cut-re-offending among diverted offenders. Alex Stevens has carried out reviews of the evidence on alternatives to criminalisation for the Irish and Swiss governments, and has published a realist programme theory of them in the European Journal of Criminology. He is now leading a realist evaluation of police-led drug diversion (PDD) schemes that are operating in West Midlands, Thames Valley and Durham, funded by the Cabinet Office.


In this talk, Professor Stevens will use collaborative research in these areas to describe the actual practice of PDD, as it is carried out in these three areas. He will present a revised realist programme theory of the contexts, mechanisms and outcomes of PDD, based on this work and an updated evidence review.


Alex Stevens is Professor in Criminal Justice at the University of Kent. He is also a board member of Harm Reduction International. He was a member of the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs from 2014 to 2019 and President of the International Society for the Study of Drug Policy from 2015 to 2019.


Alex has published extensively on drug policy, treatment and harm reduction, including books on Drugs, Crime and Public Health (Routledge, 2011) and Drug Policy Constellations (Policy Press, forthcoming). He currently leads an evaluation of police-led drug diversion schemes, funded by the Cabinet Office.


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