The impact of compliance with a compulsory model of drug diversion on treatment engagement and reoffending

Tim McSweeney, Caitlin Hughes, Alison Ritter

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)


Aim: Over a 10-year period from 2003, around 1.7 million arrests in England and Wales resulted in the suspect being exposed to mandatory drug testing and assessment processes. These provisions formed part of a wider drug interventions programme costing £1.3 billion. This study sought to assess the impact of compliance with these measures on treatment uptake and reoffending. Recidivism risk factors were also investigated. Methods: The use of linked administrative data relating to matched samples of recent heroin and/or cocaine (H/C) users identified in one English police force area over a 12-month period (N =1630). Findings: There was no association between compliance with a compulsory model of drug diversion and subsequent engagement with structured treatment services, rates of treatment retention and successful discharge. Compliance was also not found to be associated with reductions in the rate and volume of reoffending after 12 months. The factor with the largest effect on risk of recidivism was poly use of H/C. Main offence, engagement with structured treatment, number of prior convictions and (younger) age were also identified as recidivism risk factors. Conclusions: These results are discussed in the context of subsequent legislation and policy which further expands the reach of mandatory testing and assessment measures as a form of constraints-based drug diversion.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)56-66
Number of pages11
JournalDrugs: Education, Prevention and Policy
Issue number1
Early online date6 Nov 2016
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 6 Nov 2016


  • Drug diversion
  • drug interventions programme
  • England and Wales
  • propensity score matching
  • reoffending
  • treatment uptake


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