Open drug scenes and Evidence based drug policing in Sweden

Mia-Maria Magnusson is a narcotics detective in the Stockholm Police
Department. She is also a doctoral student at Malmö University, studying
open drug scenes.

Mia-Maria Magnusson

Drug use and distribution in public places have long been a part of some community contexts and the police in Sweden and abroad struggle on how to tackle these problems. Recent development of gun violence can also be added to these already multifaceted crime hot spots since the pattern of drug markets and gun violence overlap. Being a drug detective at the police in Stockholm the need for research was experienced first-hand and I got the opportunity to build research on this topic in my doctoral studies at Malmö University.

Inspired by the Evidence Based Policing approach from both Cambridge (see Sherman 2013 for example[1]) and George Mason University (see Lum and Koper, 2017[2]), I have carried out studies which provide examples of evidence-based policing in practice in Sweden. I completed a randomised controlled trial at a drug scene of Stockholm evaluating a tactic used by officers. The results show weak effects of motivational talks held by police officers as a way of preventing drug crimes.

Then I mapped all open drug scenes in Stockholm and Malmö together with local police districts in order to explore the regional situation and development on the locations. The study found stable locations of drug use and distribution with crime concentrations and patterns of characteristics of the locations which made it possible to create a categorisation of ODS. One of the three categories show criminal networks involvement in the dealing, gun violence and high levels of unsafety.

These results made way for the next study of gun violence and drug trade relationship over time, coming around right now where overlap and increasing gun violence at drug markets are some of the results.

Following the ideas on how to best enhance the EBP tradition a study focused on the translation between practice and research was also completed where police officer perceptions on experimenting and steps of implementation were analysed. This study lifts the role of the pracademics, the individuals with both practice and research skills and their usefulness to police research.

[1] Sherman, L. W. (2013). The rise of evidence-based policing: Targeting, testing, and tracking. Crime and justice, 42(1), 377-451.

[2] Lum, C. M., & Koper, C. S. (2017). Evidence-based policing: Translating research into practice. Oxford: Oxford University Press

Publications by selection

Magnusson, M. M. (2020). Mapping open drug scenes (ODS). In Crime and fear in public places (pp. 305-325). Routledge.

Magnusson, M. M. (2020). Bridging the gaps by including the police officer perspective? A study of the design and implementation of an RCT in police practice and the impact of pracademic knowledge. Policing: A Journal of Policy and Practice, 14(2), 438-455.

Gerell, M., Sturup, J., Magnusson, M. M., Nilvall, K., Khoshnood, A., & Rostami, A. (2021). Open drug markets, vulnerable neighbourhoods and gun violence in two Swedish cities. Journal of Policing, Intelligence and Counter Terrorism, 1-22.

Ivert, A. K., & Magnusson, M. M. (2019). Drug use and criminality among unaccompanied refugee minors: a review of the literature. International Journal of Migration, Health and Social Care.