Drug Addiction and Calgary Crime

More and more, drug addiction and drug use in Calgary and elsewhere in the world is being dealt with as a public health issue rather than a criminal problem. Yet the possession of many intoxicating substances can still result in criminal charges.

And, according to a recent CBC story, drug addiction could be behind other crimes, as well.

Calgary is one of the safest cities in the world, and its crime rate has been steadily dropping for years. The number of car prowlings is now higher than it has been in twenty years, however, and Calgary Police believe that much of this increase in crime can be attributed to drug addicts looking for an easy way to acquire valuables they can trade for drugs.

While a drug addiction does not excuse theft, these crime trends do illustrate the problem of dealing with drug use as a criminal justice issue: it only leads to more crime, and a community that is less safe and secure for all. Treating addiction as a medical problem gives drug addicts a positive way to seek help; criminalizing a drug addict's condition only serves to force them "into the shadows" where committing petty crimes begins to seem like a viable way of life.

The Calgary Police Service has announced a public education campaign to help car owners protect their valuables from theft. Hopefully some other city-wide initiatives addressing the true root of the problem are also coming soon.