Clashes in Culture? The ‘Professionalisation’ and ‘Criminalisation’ of the Drugs Workforce

Published 15/09/2010
Type Article
Author(s) Dr Karen Duke
Corresponding Authors Dr Karen Duke, Principal Lecturer in Criminology, Middlesex University

In the last decade, the number of people in drugs treatment in England has more than doubled to a total of 207,580 in 2008/9. The increasing access to drugs treatment has been accompanied by an expansion and development of the drugs workforce. This development has taken the form of a ‘professionalising strategy’ and includes the introduction of national occupational standards to establish levels of competence required of those working in the drug treatment field and enhancement of career pathways. This paper charts the growth of the drugs workforce over time, examines the changes in terms of their training and education, and considers the impact of contemporary policy development on their practice. In particular, it will explore the process of ‘criminalising’ drugs work and the conflicts and contradictions this has created for those working in the field. The paper will also consider the recent debates relating to the organising ideologies for drug treatment and how the current emphases on recovery, reintegration and personalisation might impact on the training and the practice of the drugs workforce.