How to Develop More Effective Policies Against Crime: Some Reflections on Drugs and Crime Research in an International Context
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This paper offers some reflections on how to develop more effective policies against crime, drawing on more than 10 years of research experience on the international drug problem. The paper begins by trying to illustrate the so-called ‘justice gap’ in the world, and explain why an institution such as the United Nations has a comparative advantage in closing that gap. It then details four lessons that the author has learnt from his own personal experience as head of research in the United Nations International Drug Control Programme, now called the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime: (i) measure, count, and keep counting; (ii) publish or perish, either in inter-governmental default, or in public hysteria; (iii) limit the dangers of committing the ‘euphemistic fallacy’; and (iv) divorce research and policy, because research is policy-dependent; make research policy-relevant, and re-marry it to policy. Finally, the paper tries to show how these lessons can be applied in related areas and used as good practice in research on crime.
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