A project by IDPC, with the participation of the International Security Research Department at Chatham House and the International Institute for Strategic Studies

Drug law enforcement has traditionally focused on reducing the size of the illicit drug market by seeking to eradicate drug production, distribution and retail supply, or at least on the stifling of these activities to an extent that potential consumers are unable to get access to particular drugs.

These strategies have failed to reduce the supply of, or demand for, drugs in consumer markets. Given this reality, and a wider policy context where some governments are moving away from a “war on drugs” approach, drug law enforcement strategies need to be adjusted to fit the new challenge – to manage drug markets in a way that minimises harms on communities. A recognition that law enforcement powers can be used to beneficially shape, rather than entirely eradicate, drug markets is being increasingly discussed.

The objective of this project, led by the International Drug Policy Consortium, with the participation of the International Security Research Department at Chatham House and the International Institute for Strategic Studies, is to collate and refine theoretical material and examples of new approaches to drug law enforcement, as well as to promote debate amongst law enforcement leaders on the implications for future strategies.

The project, running from August 2012 until November 2013, will be comprised of:

  1. A publication series
  2. Network development
  3. A seminar series


Publication series

Targeted at senior law enforcement officers, they will underpin the shift in drug law enforcement approaches and specific examples of implementation. Below is a list of publications published as part of the project:

Police support for harm reduction policies and practices towards people who inject drugs, by G. Monaghan and D. Bewley Taylor

Focused deterrence, selective targeting, drug trafficking and organised crime: Concepts and practicalities, by V. Felbab-Brown

Applying harm reduction principes to the policing of retail drug markets, by A. Stevens

Practical implications of policing alternatives to arrest and prosecution for minor cannabis offences, by Geoffrey Monaghan and Dave Bewley-Taylor

Drug law enforcement and financial investigation strategies, by Michael Levi

Drug markets, security and foreign aid, by Virginia Comolli and Claudia Hofmann


Network development

Mechanisms of cooperation and distribution will be established to reach out to a wide audience of law enforcement officers and policy makers in the UK and abroad.


Seminar series

Co-hosted with Chatham House and the International Institute of Strategic Studies, the seminars will bring together senior law enforcement officials and experts.

The first seminar was organised in March 2013 and hosted by IISS. The event was designed to discuss and promote new approaches to law enforcement and policing with a view to improve drug law enforcement strategies. The report of the seminar is available below.

The second seminar was organised in September 2013 and hosted by Chatham House. The event was an opportunity to discuss issues related to cannabis regulated markets, foreign aid, and financial investigation strategies. The report of the seminar is available below.


Should you wish to share reports and briefings on similar issues, please do not hesitate to send them to the IDPC Secretariat at contact@idpc.net.

For more information, please also visit the website of the International Institute for Strategic Studies and that of Chatham House.

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