Dr. Bob Keizer, Trimbos Institute, the Netherlands Institute for Mental Health and Addiction on the importance of research and data collection

Data collection is the basis of good policy. Incomplete data leads to bad assessments and bad assessments lead to bad policies. There is a long way to go and there are a lot of problems that need solutions.

The first is on capacity. Data collection is very expensive. There are two kinds of costs involved. The first is collection on the first layer (prisons, streets, etc). This ‘first layer’ is very important. The next layer is on collection nationally. Both come with ongoing costs. If these are going to be done right, they will require continuing support. Then there is the collection and synthesis at the UNODC level.

Another problem is the quality and comparability of data and the importance of data collection as an independent or at least transparent process.

Addressing the challenge in data collection at the UN level may lie in limiting the number of questions posed. For example, why are so few states completing the UN questionnaires? It may be that there are too many questions and there are fears that the answers will be used to criticise the states. Dr. Keizer suggested reducing the abundance of questions.

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