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David Vascott

News, Features and Opinion Editor, Solicitors Journal

Pilot study find high-level of drug use among domestic abusers

Pilot study find high-level of drug use among domestic abusers


Police forces have been drug testing individuals arrested for domestic abuse offences as part of a pilot to establish perpetrator profiles and offender rehabilitation opportunities to protect victims.

The National Police Chiefs’ Council (NPCC) said in a press release on 2 August:

Anecdotally, the use of cocaine and alcohol have been highlighted as exacerbating factors in domestic abuse offences, and the results from pilots in seven police forces have demonstrated significant evidence to support this. In one area, nearly 85 per cent (127/150) of domestic abuse offenders arrested and drug tested, were positive for cocaine and/or opiates and overall across the pilot forces, 59 per cent of those tested were positive for cocaine and/or opiates.

Mark Lay, the NPCC’s drugs coordinator lead said:

“Violent behaviours are clinically associated with cocaine use so while the results of the pilots are not particularly surprising, the high percentage of offenders testing positive was more than we had anticipated.

“We know there are many reasons behind domestic abuse offending, and drug use, while not a causal factor, can make it more extreme or frequent. These pilots help us to develop a more detailed picture of perpetrators to safeguard victims and potential victims, while making sure we signpost offenders to the most appropriate treatment programmes.

“The results also show how shockingly widespread the use of cocaine is in many communities which could indicate the need for legislative change in regards to mandatory drug testing on arrest for a much wider array of offences.”

Assistant Commissioner Louisa Rolfe, the NPCC’s lead for domestic abuse said:

“It wouldn’t be right to say that drug use turns anyone into an abuser, but we do know it can make existing offenders behave in a more extreme and aggressive manner. 

“This evidence around the links between drug use and domestic abuse offending can help us to better manage perpetrators and protect victims, building on our work around perpetrator profiles. It also enables us to identify opportunities for drug treatment services in perpetrator programmes which could help prevent reoffending.”