n Acta Criminologica: Southern African Journal of Criminology - The drug consumption and crime history of detainees at police stations in South Africa

Volume 21, Issue 1
  • ISSN : 1012-8093



This article provides a background on, summarises the findings and notes the implications of a sample survey conducted among detainees at police stations in South Africa in 2000. The survey investigated the level of drug consumption and crime, drug-crime connections and contributors to these issues at an individual and broad socioeconomic level, focusing on the period before the respondents' arrest. The survey confirmed the findings of related studies that drug-crime manifests in comparatively intense drug intake and criminal activity, and in an interactive relationship between the two manifestations. It also deepened insight into the influence of broad socioeconomic conditions on drug-crime, showing, for example, that greater population density in a neighbourhood increased the probability of individuals experiencing violent encounters such as threats or stabbing with a knife. These encounters, in turn, increased the probability of the individuals concerned consuming some drug or other. However, being the first of its kind, the study must be repeated. The influence of broad socioeconomic conditions on the drug-crime phenomenon must also be explored in greater depth at some future stage. As many respondents indicated a need for drug-related remedial treatment, and as various overseas studies have shown that drug-related treatment can reduce crime, the screening of entrants into the criminal justice system (i e detainees at police stations) for drug use and the provision of drug-related treatment to those in need, therefore seem essential. Finally, as the survey indicated that a combination of individual and broad socioeconomic issues contribute to drug-crime, counteraction must be taken at both these levels.

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