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Side event – Modernising drug law enforcement

Mike Trace: Partnership Organized by the Government of Switzerland, the International Drug Policy Consortium (IDPC), the International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS) and the Chatham House

For many decades the focus of law enforcement efforts have been put into reducing the size of the market. Need to arrest and punish those caught in this system. Drug markets aren’t so simple now. The task for law enforcement isn’t either. Not as simple as maximising arrests. Encouraging debate around these issues.

Prof Dave Bewley-Taylor
Abilitiy of law enforcement’s role to change is a growing area of interest.

1)Need to change objectives

2) A focus on gathering intelligence and analysis on the nature of the drug market and the problems it causes to the law abiding community. If we know more we can identify problems and responses.

3) careful concentration of enforcement action the basis of the levels and types of harm caused by those individuals or groups engaged in various ways in the illicit market, rather than a focus on the easiest to catch.

Developed a publication series. There are 6 reports targeted at law enforcement.


There are commonalities across the reports.
Always need for more research.

Looking at doing a second wave of reports.

Prof Peter Reuter
Laws didn’t create new crimes. But it created new obligations to banks to work on behalf of law enforcement. It’s almost a universal regime. Pretty much all nations have these laws. There are hundreds of thousands of reports on suspicious activity. Few investigations begin with suspicious activity reports. These should be treated as databases for investigaiton, not making cases.

Laundered money is a source of vulnerability. Point of entry and point of exit are useful for detecting the crime.

Suspicious activity reports have increase dramatically. But convictions for money laundering (prime charge) have not increased over time and the share because of drug trafficking is modest. 25%

Money laundering charges not often used against drug traffickers. Money laundering is not yet a big part of presecutorial system against drug money launderers. The reports don’t provide more cases, but they might provide more evidence if you’re already investigating a drug dealer.

The low level producers don’t need to launder money because they’re doing it to supply.

Raising the cost of laundering only increases the price of drugs by about 1%. Point is that money laundering investigations can be used to find and support wider drug trafficking cases.

Christian Schnieider, Swiss Federal Office of Police
In Switzerland had an open drug scene in needlepark, very visible. Police and enforcement was tasked with figuring it out. Force didn’t work. Developed a new policy

4 pillar strategy: Prevention, treatment, harm reduction, and repression.

Started in 1992. What role could police place? There are expectations
1) reduce consumption, 2) expectation to keep the public safe 3) stop money laundering and trafficking

there are trade off between these three tasks. How do we deal with the trade offs. The 4 pillar apporach is the about the idea that you have to cooperate between the four pillars.

Police and other stakeholders are now coordinating. Police don’t interfere with harm minimisations.

Drug problems are usually local problems. You can’t have one fixed solution for the entire country

It’s a constant task. Bring together all the parties often.

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