EMCDDA releases its first analysis on monitoring drug-related homicide in Europe

An EMCDDA Paper released today provides an overview of the information available on drug-related homicide (DRH) in Europe. This first snapshot provides practitioners and policymakers with the current state of the art on this topic. It is part of the EMCDDA’s efforts to expand its monitoring in the drug-related crime area in order to fully comprehend the broader ramifications of the drugs phenomenon.

Since 2013, the EMCDDA has been working on improving its framework for monitoring the supply side of the drugs problem to reflect the changing nature of drug markets and their wider harms and impact (1). The effects of drugs and drug markets reach beyond those who are directly exposed to drugs in terms of health or social problems. The issue is of serious concern in relation to the overall security situation in Europe and deeply affects communities at large, as drug use and drug markets can act as cross-cutting facilitators of acts of violence.

Literature on the relationship between psychoactive substance use and violence is increasing, although most of this is devoted to the use of alcohol. However, a smaller, but growing, number of studies focus on the drug–violence relationship.

To help bridge the gap, today’s report:

  • maps existing data sources on homicide in European countries;
  • estimates the extent of drug involvement in national homicides by country;
  • assesses and discusses the obstacles where a drug-homicide relationship cannot be readily established; and
  • considers the practical implications for monitoring drug-related homicide at the EU level.

There are clearly inconsistencies in the data available on drug-related homicide in Europe. While 10 countries systematically prepare data on this topic, there is variation, between and within countries, on the role drugs play in homicide events. Homicides are internationally well-recorded, but as the report states: ‘Research and monitoring activity internationally has rarely looked beyond the link between homicide and the involvement of organised crime in the supply and distribution of illicit drugs’.

According to the report, Europe currently faces four key obstacles to monitoring drug-related homicide:

  • missing data;
  • fragmented data;
  • comparability issues; and
  • data quality reservations.

To overcome these obstacles there is a need to define and operationalise concepts based on common definitions and integrate them into the EMCDDA monitoring system.

Drug-related homicide is one of the most serious manifestations of drug markets and has a high social cost. It can also be an indicator of wider drug-related violent crime. Comparing these statistics between countries can help identify trends and new threats in order to plan and implement proportionate responses.