We are improving the measurement of effective drug and crime control policy

We are improving higher education

The Challenge

Professor Bewley-Taylor’s research focuses on the recalibration of the way governments, UN agencies and international non-governmental organizations (INGOs) measure the effectiveness of national and international drug and crime control policies.  His work has changed the approach adopted by the UK, Swiss and Norwegian governments, as well as the United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights and, among other influential INGOs, the Global Commission on Drug Policy.

His research has shifted attention away from traditional law enforcement indicators towards previously underrepresented metrics in other intersecting domains including human rights, public health, and development. Professor Bewley-Taylor’s work has helped shape and promote a new policy discourse and influenced policy initiatives, including government strategies, statements and negotiating positions within United Nations forums.

The Method

The research has been carried out under the auspices of the Global Drug Policy Observatory (GDPO) at Swansea University.  Supported by a range of funders, principally the Open Society Foundation, the GDPO was established by Bewley-Taylor as an impact oriented initiative to generate policy relevant drug policy research.  Since 2016 it has been the home for a dedicated workstream on metrics of drug and crime policy effectiveness

The GDPO seeks to promote evidence and human rights based drug policy through the comprehensive and rigorous reporting, monitoring, and analysis of policy developments at national, regional and international levels.

It acts a platform that reaches out to and engages with broad and diverse audiences, including media and elite opinion formers as well as those within law enforcement and policy making communities.

GDPO works on:

  • topic specific challenges arising from the study of drug policy, human rights, and harm reduction;
  • methodological issues related to the creation of a complex global drug policy index that using mixed approaches to  capture multi-dimensional phenomena;
  • practical and political lessons on how to make such an index impactful, transparent, and politically persuasive.

The GDPO also works closely with a network of researchers across West Africa to deepen the understanding of both underlying causes and the impact of policy.

The Impact

Although measuring the effectiveness of drug and crime control policies has been an area of increasing concern for some time, it is only recently that the issue of policy metrics has ‘broken the surface’ and become a major point of attention for the drug and crime control community at both the national and international level.  This has taken place within an environment where a growing number of policy actors are recognizing important connections between the international drug control regime and other regimes (e.g., human rights) and UN system-wide initiatives such as the Sustainable Development Agenda.

Through a combination of both academic and grey literature publications, high-level presentations at the UN in New York, Geneva, and Vienna and think-tanks in the UK and US, as well as face-to-face briefings with a range of end-users, Professor Bewley-Taylor’s metrics focused research has made a substantial contribution to this twin process, in terms of both significance and reach. 

The text reads United Nations Sustainable Development Themes
UN Sustainable goal - Justice
Swansea University Research Themes