A qualitative comparison of how people who use drugs’ perceptions and experiences of policing affect supervised consumption services access in two cities

Marta Marika Urbanik, Katharina Maier, Carolyn Greene

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal Articlepeer-review

6 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Background: Police presence near Supervised Consumption Services (SCS) and other harm reduction services has been shown to hamper access to these critical facilities for People Who Use Drugs (PWUD). However, few studies document the empirical nuances of these contextually dependant police-PWUD relationships, and how PWUD’ experiences and perceptions of policing near harm reduction services shape SCS access. If the goal is to increase SCS uptake, understanding the complexities of PWUD-police relations near SCS is imperative for guiding both formal policy and informal best-practices. Methods: We report findings from a larger qualitative study on PWUD’ experiences with SCS in two Canadian cities. Data were collected through 75 face-to-face interviews and observations with street-involved PWUD near local SCS in Edmonton and Calgary, Alberta. Results: Participants’ perceptions of and experiences with policing varied across jurisdictions. Participants in Calgary reported concentrated police presence in and near SCS, in addition to harassment, negative encounters, fears about getting arrested, and experiences of being displaced from the area. Participants in Edmonton, despite also reporting heavy police presence near SCS, reported feeling relatively safe from police intervention and harassment, within SCS and the surrounding area. Conclusion: Rather than the presence/absence and quantity of policing near SCS, our findings show that the quality of policing experienced in the community shapes PWUD’ perceptions, experiences, and willingness to access SCS.

Original languageEnglish
Article number103671
JournalInternational Journal of Drug Policy
Volume104
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Jun. 2022

Keywords

  • Access barriers
  • Police-PWUD relations
  • Policing
  • Supervised consumption sites

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