What is the impact of the different drug policies of England and Wales and the Netherlands on their respective levels of offending?
The Netherlands, in relation to soft drugs, adopts a social/welfare policy. Their drug policy is concerned with the health and safety of users. England and Wales take a criminal approach in their hard and soft drug policies. It may be thought that because England and Wales criminalise all drugs that this drives drug users underground, and that this in turn leads to higher levels of offending. There are many criminal justice polices in both countries which can influence their respective levels of offending, yet various factors can affect the statistics.
The soft drug policy in the Netherlands is the opposite of Britain's, decriminalization, meaning that it is classified as a summary offence rather than an indictable offence. 'Harm reduction' has been the guiding principle in defining the drug laws in the Netherlands. This means the main aim of Dutch policy is to protect the health of individual users, the people around them and society. Users of soft and hard drugs are seen as patients rather than criminals. According to the interactionism hypotheses society creates crime. Becker believed that by labeling criminals as deviants they will live up to that label. If this theory is applied in the Netherlands then it would be expected they would have a lower level of offending, as society and the law do not label criminals as such, so people who offend have no name to live up to. Dutch drug policy aims to restrict both demand and supply of drugs, which is similar to the U.Ks aims.
Both countries are, however, united in adopting a harsh approach to drug trafficking and laundering drug money. In England the first anti- laundering law was...