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Working Title of PhD: Exploring diversion and treatment pathways for people who use drugs and who come into contact with the Scottish criminal justice system.

Year commenced PhD study: 2017 (1+3) Institution/Organisation: The University of Stirling

Funding Source: Scottish Government and ESRC Collaborative Funding Full or part-time: Full-time

PhD Supervisors: Dr Tessa Parkes and Dr Margaret Malloch

Synopsis of PhD:

Scotland uses a number of strategies to divert people with drug related issues to treatment, upon contact with the criminal justice system. To date, there is a dearth of literature which examines how such strategies are enacted and experienced. The study aims to address this evidence gap by exploring how well current interventions, strategies and approaches are working, for whom and why, using a qualitative Delphi approach. Themes identified during the Delphi will be used to identify potential models of best/better practice nationally and internationally which may be translatable to the Scottish context. This will be developed into vignettes which will transport participants into the narrative of alternative models, helping to visualise approaches which have the potential to increase access to treatment and support, whilst reducing the impact of criminalisation process on the lives of individuals.

Given that discretionary decision making is known to influence whether a person receives diversion or a route to criminal sanctions, understanding the perspectives of key stakeholders involved in the delivery or implementation of diversion approaches is vital.

The study aims to create research-in-action, by drawing together a broad range of stakeholders from multiple disciplinary fields to exchange knowledge about how Scotland’s offer of diversionary interventions can be improved. The study is therefore an inherently qualitative exploration which will be undertaken via collaborative processes with participants drawn from Police Scotland, social work, criminal justice, health and those with lived experience.

The study will explore themes of criminalisation, care, control, punishment and support. The project is co-funded between the ESRC and the Scottish Government and aims to make a direct, current and relevant contribution to drug policy development.

Update: In the run up to the International Conference on Law Enforcement and Public Health 2019, PhD Researcher, Tracey Price was invited to take part in a meeting with prosecutors, law enforcement and policy leaders from across the world, to discuss the potential for cross-global collaborations to advance public health, drug policy, and criminal justice reform. During the main conference, Tracey built upon these conversations and formed links to establish a network of people who are interested in working together cross-globally to exchange knowledge and explore potential for criminal justice reform in relation to people who use drugs.




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