Pilots find high levels of drug use in domestic abuse offenders
Drug testing highlights cocaine as exacerbating factor in domestic abuse incidents
A number of police forces have been drug testing individuals arrested for domestic abuse offences as part of a pilot to establish perpetrator profiles and offender rehabilitation opportunities to protect victims.
Anecdotally, the use of cocaine and alcohol have been highlighted as exacerbating factors in domestic abuse offences, and the results from pilots in seven police forces have demonstrated significant evidence to support this. In one area, nearly 85 per cent (127/150) of domestic abuse offenders arrested and drug tested, were positive for cocaine and/or opiates and overall across the pilot forces, 59 per cent of those tested were positive for cocaine and/or opiates.
Mark Lay is the National Police Chiefs’ Council Drugs Coordinator Lead. He said:
“Violent behaviours are clinically associated with cocaine use so while the results of the pilots are not particularly surprising, the high percentage of offenders testing positive was more than we had anticipated.
“We know there are many reasons behind domestic abuse offending, and drug use, while not a causal factor, can make it more extreme or frequent. These pilots help us to develop a more detailed picture of perpetrators to safeguard victims and potential victims, while making sure we signpost offenders to the most appropriate treatment programmes.
“The results also show how shockingly widespread the use of cocaine is in many communities which could indicate the need for legislative change in regards to mandatory drug testing on arrest for a much wider array of offences.”
Assistant Commissioner Louisa Rolfe is National Police Chiefs’ Council Lead for Domestic Abuse. She said:
“It wouldn’t be right to say that drug use turns anyone into an abuser, but we do know it can make existing offenders behave in a more extreme and aggressive manner.
“This evidence around the links between drug use and domestic abuse offending can help us to better manage perpetrators and protect victims, building on our work around perpetrator profiles. It also enables us to identify opportunities for drug treatment services in perpetrator programmes which could help prevent reoffending.”
Farah Nazeer is Chief Executive of Women’s Aid. She said:
“Domestic abuse is driven by the perpetrator’s desire for power and control, as well as by the inequality between men and women, and it is important to remember that drugs, including cocaine, do not cause domestic abuse.
“However, as demonstrated by this study, there is a link between domestic abuse and drug use, which can make pre-existing violence and abuse more severe. This study highlights that we need to understand how other forms of harm, such as drugs, interlink with domestic abuse - and how this can help improve protection and support for survivors.”