IDPC response to the EMCDDA - The European Union and illicit drug market indicators

30 August 2011

In early 2011, the European Commission initiated a process to review the common indicators used for assessing the effectiveness of drug law enforcement activities. Within that process, the European Monitoring Centre on Drugs and Drug Addiction (EMCDDA) sent out a call for input from experts on the potential indicators that could be developed in the areas of drug markets, drug related crime and drug supply reduction.

IDPC has produced this response to their consultation process. It makes the overall point that, for decades, drug law enforcement has been measured in terms of measures of process (i.e. Arrests, seizures, etc) rather than outcomes in terms of reduced crime, social and health problems. This is a technical problem of measurement, but also leads to a deceptive appearance of success - numbers of arrests, or scale of seizures, are assumed to be reducing harm but, as the IDPC response explains, this is rarely the case. A new set of indicators, covering the levels of market related harms, need to be utilised to give a better picture of the achievements of drug law enforcement.