Is the relationship between drugs and crime a causal one?

Essay by johnwhybrowUniversity, Bachelor'sA, February 2012

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Is the relationship between drugs and crime a causal one?

Many leading criminologists, analysts and scholars have written on the subject of the relationship between drugs and crime, but few have categorically agreed on one answer. Drugs and crime are very often found together, however the problem comes when attempting to explain the relationship. Is the relationship causal? If so, which way around? Drug use causes crime, or crime causes drug use? Are there other ways in which they are related, for example a common cause which affects both? Or is it even possible that sometimes the relationship is purely coincidental? These are the questions that many writers and experts have attempted to answer.

The three main models I have mentioned (drug use causes crime, crime causes drug use, a common aetiology) are very unlikely to be mutually exclusive, however. It is more than likely, most agree, that there is a reasonable overlap between the three models.

The problem with these models or theories comes when trying to understand and prove them, especially when it comes to using crime statistics as evidence. Crime statistics are usually collected using three different methods - quantitative, qualitative and a mix of the two. When it comes to using data on crime, one must be careful to be analytical of the data as it is not always reliable, however can be useful in some ways, for example to give a broad idea on a subject or to show trends over time. This is especially the case with much data on drug use; with quantitative data (surveys, multiple choice questions etc.) it is not always necessarily true that people are going to be entirely honest when being questioned about drug use, for obvious reasons. It is true to say that of the large number of...