Increase in Figures on Drug Offences in the Czech Republic: An Epidemic of Drug Crime or Something Else?
After several years of stagnation, the Czech Republic has experienced a sharp rise in numbers of drug offences registered by the police as well as in other statistical indicators related to this type of crime. Between 2009 and 2014, the number of drug offences registered per year by the police increased by 80% and the number of persons convicted of drug offences per year almost doubled. This finding could indicate that there is a period of an enormous spread of drug offences on the streets of the Czech Republic. But the reliance on official crime statistics as the only source of data on crime rate and trends can lead to misleading and oversimplified conclusions. The paper is based on the results of the recent research of the Institute of Criminology and Social Prevention in Prague. Using a qualitative approach and findings from the analysis of statistics on drug offences, the analysis of epidemiological data, the assessment of the new legislation, the analysis of relevant strategic documents and the expert questionnaire survey, the authors present possible explanations for the recent development in drug offences rate, pointing out certain shortcomings of the official statistics of registered offences. The analysis indicates that the real increase in drug crime, connected mainly with the rise in numbers of problem (high-risk) drug users, can in part explain the development of the registered drug crime rate. However, other factors, like the shift in the priorities of the Czech police leaders and related shift in the allocation of capacities, play probably more important role, which confirms the limited usability of registered crime statistics in describing and explaining the real state and development of crime.
drug offences, crime statistics, crime rate, Penal Code, latent crime
Zeman, P., Štefunková, M., Trávníčková, I.