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Drugs and Alcohol (young people)

Drugs and getting into trouble with the law

The experiences of several young people seemed to show that drug use, crime and anti-social behaviour are closely linked. Drug use and crime, often go hand-in-hand but most drug users don’t get into trouble with the law.
 
Some young people had been the victim of violence, mostly when drunk rather than on drugs. Some young people had experience of incidents involving anti-social behaviour or committing violent acts. Their behaviour had got some of them into trouble with the police or caught the attention of Social Services. Mary Ann was at risk of having her son put on the Child Protection Register. Her son’s father had a problem with drug addiction and had criminal convictions. Daniel was arrested and spent a night in jail for anti-social behaviour when under the influence of alcohol and drugs. Peter got into an argument with his neighbours when intoxicated, and the police got involved (see also ‘Stopping or cutting down on the use of illegal drugs’, ‘Alcohol and risks to self and others’ and ‘Family relationships drugs and alcohol’). 
 

Peter has concerns about carrying cannabis but is more worried about the police associating him with his friend, a dealer.

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Peter has concerns about carrying cannabis but is more worried about the police associating him with his friend, a dealer.

Age at interview: 27
Sex: Male
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Aren’t you concerned that you might get into trouble by just...?
 
By association. Yes and no. I don’t commit any crimes other than possession of cannabis. Obviously I commit that crime when I have it which I think it’s only going to get me a caution anyway if I was ever to be in trouble with the police or that. 
 
So sometimes I might be worried if we’re in the car if we’re driving about in a car and we’ve got a large amount of drugs on then that might be a concern. And I suppose there’s obviously the concern that socially like with work and things like that. But I consider him my best friend. I consider him my best friend and I think it would be selfish of me to end that friendship or not continue that friendship on the basis of my concerns of being in trouble with the law because we have a loyalty to each other and we love each other. 
 
Jim started shoplifting to feed his heroin dependency. Steph and her siblings were forced to steal by their mother who later sold the goods or exchanged them for heroin.
 

Chloe describes what happened when she got arrested for shoplifting and had to spend time in a...

Chloe describes what happened when she got arrested for shoplifting and had to spend time in a...

Age at interview: 20
Sex: Female
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So at that time your mum was really concerned about you and she has already noticed that you were doing more than sort of smoking cannabis
 
Yeah because I was going out shoplifting all the time.
 
Ok.
 
I had, I used to get a new full outfit from head to toe every weekend that I never bought. So yeah [laugh].
 
Were you ever caught?
 
Once I was caught.
 
Ok what happened?
 
And I just got a, what did they call it, I can’t remember but it’s on my record anyway. It is on my record.
 
You, you got a caution?
 
Yeah it was a caution yeah, a caution yeah.
 
And were you taken to a police station or
 
Yeah. I was in the police station for a while. I was in there for, in the cell for 8 hours I think, yeah.
 
Do you want to tell me more about that experience?
 
Yeah I don’t mind. It was with a group of friends [cough] we went, we should have been in school. So we were so dumb because it was quite obvious we was of school age and wasn’t in school in school time. And we all went to our local shopping area and yes we just had everything and anything in our bags. There was loads of us as well, about 12, well not loads about 12. Had a load of stuff and I had clocked the security guards first because I’m that one that’s always, [laugh] looking out for stuff and so I said, ‘I’m staying here. You lot can walk out that door and get caught’. And I went to go out that other door and they pinned me up against the wall and like it was so embarrassing. People that I knew was walking past and I was pinned up against this wall and because I was cocky I tried to run off and they pinned me and grips me back on the wall. And yeah and then I was taken down the cells because I. They could see at the time that I self-harmed. They took off all my jewellery and my hair clips and my shoes, everything. And my mum said. My mum was at work at the time when she got the phone call and her work told her to go and get me. And she was like, ‘No she can stay there. She has to learn her lesson.’ And so I was there for ages and yeah when she came. Like because she’s quite expressive but she gave me the worst thing in the world which was the silent treatment. When she came to get me she didn’t look at me. She didn’t even acknowledge me. She pointed to the door of the car to get in. 
 

Jim was arrested several times for shoplifting. The last time he saw an ‘arrest referral worker’...

Jim was arrested several times for shoplifting. The last time he saw an ‘arrest referral worker’...

Age at interview: 23
Sex: Male
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Oh yes, all of it and more. That was the problem I hadn’t got enough to keep me habit. I was only working part time and I hadn’t got enough money to keep my habit. So I wasn’t turning up for work because I hadn’t got heroin all the time.
 
You said that you turned to crime?
 
Yeah.
 
Were you stealing?
 
No, yeah not, not really bad crime but shoplifting, theft. Very often I used to borrow my dad’s truck, my dad had got a pick-up truck. I used to borrow that and go out and steal scrap metal and weigh that in. And doing that pretty much every day for quite some time, for about six months.
 
Were you ever caught?
 
Not for doing scrap, no. I was caught shoplifting, nicking vodka and whisky and stuff like that and meat and caught about four or five times I think doing that.
 
What did the police do at that time?
 
I was cautioned twice and I was given a 12-month discharge from the court twice.
 
Did they offer any advice?
 
They did the last time I was arrested, yeah. They sent me to one of the drugs agencies at [City].
 
Tell me more about that because you were caught shoplifting. You were taken to the Police Station and they were giving you information about places you could go off to get help.
 
Sort of yeah. They arrest you and they have what’s known as arrest referral workers and they come and give you information whilst you’re in the cells of who you can go to get help. It’s then totally up to you whether you take that help or not but I’d wanted to get clean for quite some time anyway. And as I’ve already said, I went to stay with my Mother and I tried to do cold turkey and that just wasn’t working so the only route I could take really was to go on methadone. That was the only thing I could see to help me. So I got in touch with them and they sorted me a methadone script out within a few weeks. 
The police routinely ‘stop and search’ people on the estate where Karis and Kasim live. At first they were against it because they thought the police would be discriminatory about who they searched. In practice they have seen the police stopping and searching a wider section of the community.
 

Karis and Kasim say that anyone can be a drug dealer and have noticed that the police are stopping and searching people who don’t fit the 'hoodie' stereotype.

Karis and Kasim say that anyone can be a drug dealer and have noticed that the police are stopping and searching people who don’t fit the 'hoodie' stereotype.

Age at interview: 20
Sex: Male
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Ok and how do you feel about the sort of the stop and search?
 
Karis' At first I did think it was quite excessive to be honest.
 
Kasim' Yeah
 
Karis' Because I do know a lot of people that have been stopped and searched that really don’t need to be sort of thing, do you know what I mean.
 
Kasim' That don’t fit that category.
 
Karis' Yeah but I mean now I think I’ve like looked over it and I think it. You know, the such and such thing it is quite, it’s a necessity I think now definitely.
 
Kasim' Especially to keep your community safe as well.
 
Karis' Safe yeah definitely.
 
Kasim' I think stop-and-search. I think it’s not necessarily a bad thing at all but I have seen like policemen stopping certain people that don’t fit the category that aren’t like
 
Karis' They’re not like that at all.
 
Kasim' Hoodie jumpers and stuff as well. So I think that’s why some people have [um]
 
Karis' It’s the stereotype again it’s the
 
Kasim' Yeah it’s the stereotype. I think that’s what some people do have a problem with stop-and-search.
 
So drug dealers are not necessarily those who fit the stereotype?
 
Kasim' No I think, I think a drug dealer to me is like
 
Karis' But that’s what I mean yeah it...
 
Kasim' Yeah
 
Karis' It could be anybody.
 
Kasim' They could be anyone.
 
Karis' They could be suited and booted.
 
Kasim' So that’s why. Yeah, I agree with the stop-and-search.
 
Karis' Do you know what I mean yeah the stop-and-search definitely.
 
Kasim' I agree with the stop-and-search because the drug dealer doesn’t necessarily have to dress...
 
Karis' Have to be in the hoodie and trainers.
 
Kasim' ...in the hoodie and tracksuits and stuff. He can drive and like I said drive Mercedes Benz and Range Rovers and stuff and you would never think it. So maybe I think the stop-and-search thing is good because maybe it will like label down crime and put it at a stop. 


Last reviewed : July 2018.
Last updated: January 2015.

 
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