The engagement of young people in drug interventions in coercive contexts: findings from a cross-national European study

Duke, Karen L. ORCID logoORCID:, Gleeson, Helen ORCID logoORCID:, Dabrowska, Katarzyna, Herold, Maria Dich and Rolando, Sara (2021) The engagement of young people in drug interventions in coercive contexts: findings from a cross-national European study. Drugs: Education, Prevention, and Policy, 28 (1) . pp. 26-35. ISSN 0968-7637 [Article] (doi:10.1080/09687637.2020.1763917)

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Background: The engagement of young people has been a neglected area in youth justice and drugs policy and practice. This paper explores the concept of ‘engagement’ in relation to drugs interventions in custodial and community settings in different European countries.

Methods: Interviews were undertaken with young people (aged 14-25 years) in contact with the criminal justice system who use illegal drugs and with practitioners involved in the delivery of interventions for our target group in Denmark, Italy, Poland the UK.

Results: The key techniques to engage young people were described in similar terms across the countries. These included forming relationships based on trust, honesty and empathy, setting goals collaboratively and employing practitioners with lived experience and understanding. The objectives and activities on offer are often constrained by the criminal justice contexts.

Conclusions: Despite the differences between the countries in terms of criminal justice systems and the structure of drug interventions, there were remarkable similarities in the ways young people and practitioners described effective engagement. Strong emphasis on operational engagement to ensure positive relationships between young people and practitioners was important in the design and delivery of interventions. Practitioners working in criminal justice contexts need to have flexibility and autonomy to work creatively to find ways to engage, connect and inspire young people.

Item Type: Article
Additional Information: Volume 28, 2021 - Issue 1: Special Focus: Drug experienced young people in contact with the Criminal Justice System. Guest editors: Vibeke A. Frank & Sara Rolando
Keywords (uncontrolled): Young people, criminal justice system, adolescents, engagement, drug involvement, prevention, practitioners, European, intervention
Research Areas: A. > School of Law > Criminology and Sociology
Item ID: 30350
Notes on copyright: © 2020 The Author(s). Published by Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group.
This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives License (, which permits non-commercial re-use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited, and is not altered, transformed, or built upon in any way.
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Depositing User: Karen Duke
Date Deposited: 10 Jun 2020 17:35
Last Modified: 23 Jun 2022 10:49

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