Police pilots find high levels of drug use in domestic abuse offenders
Drug testing pilots conducted by a number of police forces have highlighted cocaine as an “exacerbating factor” in domestic abuse incidents.
Individuals arrested for domestic abuse offences are being drug tested part of the pilot to establish perpetrator profiles and offender rehabilitation opportunities to protect victims.
The National Police Chiefs’ Council (NPCC) said: “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 of domestic abuse offenders who were tested after arrest and were positive for cocaine and overall across the pilot forces, 59 per cent of those tested were positive for cocaine.
Mark Lay, NPCC drugs coordinator lead, 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.
“The results also show how shockingly widespread the use of cocaine is in many communities, which could indicate the need for legislative change and mandatory drug testing on arrest for a much wider array of offences.”
Assistant Commissioner Louisa Rolfe, NPCC lead for domestic abuse, added: “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.”
However, Farah Nazeer, chief executive of Women’s Aid, said it was important to remember that drugs do not cause domestic abuse.
“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,” she said.
“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.”