Dissertation Abstracts

The impact of drug policy reforms on drug offences and organised crime: A case study of the Czech Republic from 1990-2016

Author: Kathryn A Gudmunson, kathryngudmunson@gmail.com
Department: Sociology and Social Policy
University: University of Leeds, United Kingdom
Supervisor: Katy Wright and Emma Wincup
Year of completion: 2019
Language of dissertation: English

Keywords: Drug policy , Drug decriminalisation , Drug offences , Organised Crime
Areas of Research: Deviance and Social Control , Law


Possession of drugs for personal use has been decriminalised in the Czech Republic since 1990, but the implementation of the law has changed several times. This thesis examines the impacts of these changes on drug offences and organised crime. Using an approach that combines the use of the Advocacy Coalition Framework with a sequential explanatory mixed methods design, this research utilises interrupted time series analysis and thematic analysis of interviews and government documents to compare rates of drug offences and organised crime across the implementation periods of the different policies. The results of the study indicate that rates of drug offences and organised crime have continued to increase under the decriminalisation policies, but there were fewer prosecutions and convictions under the policy that was in place from 1999-2009, when possession for personal use was decriminalised for amounts ‘greater than small’. The most significant increases were seen after the 2010 policy change, which harmonised threshold limits across law enforcement agencies. While policy changes contributed to these outcomes, the crime rates were also influenced by procedural changes in law enforcement, police and judicial discretion, police and governmental prioritisation, and changing trends in drug use and distribution. Ultimately, the thesis concluded that the decriminalisation policy was one of many factors that influenced rates of drug offences and organised crime. The policies, regardless of specific implementation, did not reduce the number of prosecutions or convictions and may have provided a hospitable environment for the expansion of organised crime. The socio-political landscape of the country – including core cultural beliefs, public tolerance for drug use, policing and law enforcement structures and philosophies, and medical approaches and views – all shaped the evolution of the decriminalisation policy and its effects on crime.