Research Output
Policing of Drugs in Scotland: Moving beyond the stalemate to redesigning the chess board
  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 whilst 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 UK 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.

  • Date:

    14 September 2021

  • Publication Status:


  • Publisher


  • Funders:

    Edinburgh Napier Funded


Fotopoulou, M., & Aston, E. (in press). Policing of Drugs in Scotland: Moving beyond the stalemate to redesigning the chess board. In M. Bacon, & J. Spicer (Eds.), Drug law enforcement, policing and harm reduction: Ending the stalemate. Routledge



policing, drugs, harm reduction

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