Harm reduction policing: Conceptualisation and implementation

Matthew Bacon, Jack Spicer

Research output: Chapter or section in a book/report/conference proceedingChapter or section


This chapter examines the origins, development, and current standing of harm reduction policing. It synthesises the existing literature on the topic and offers a detailed overview of developing trends and specific examples from across the globe. The aim is to bring together this growing body of work for the first time, conceptualise harm reduction policing as a distinct policing model, and provide a framework for future research. Key points of discussion include enforcement-led prohibition and its shortcomings; the emergence, evolution, and application of the notion of ‘harm reduction’ in drug policy and practice; and the meaning and types of ‘harm’ with which it is concerned. Drawing on the concepts of the ‘risk environment’ (Rhodes 2002) and ‘responsive regulation’ (Braithwaite 2011), the chapter also considers theoretical tools that can be employed to inform harm reduction policing. To date, the application of harm reduction principles to drugs policing has only been realised to a limited extent in responses to drug use and markets. The chapter therefore concludes by considering the prospects of harm reduction policing, including the barriers and facilitators to its expansion.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationDrug Law Enforcement, Policing and Harm Reduction
Subtitle of host publicationEnding the stalemate
EditorsMatthew Bacon, Jack Spicer
Number of pages26
ISBN (Electronic)9781003154136
ISBN (Print)9780367722708
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2023


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