Law enforcement and women who use drugs: improving police relations and cooperation for better public health, community safety and human rights protection

This briefing paper is intended to provide a starting point to help bridge gaps in understanding the important issues of women who use drugs in their interactions with law enforcement authorities in Eastern Europe and Central Asia (EECA). The aim is to facilitate much improved interactions and future co-operation, thereby supporting the prioritization of public health approaches in drug policing. The complementary goals of such approaches are better health and social outcomes for those using drugs, as well as more effective, community-centred police work.

This paper is targeted primarily for advocates, policy-makers, and health and drug use professionals. It is expected to be especially useful for police at the municipal level, including those who undertake street-level policing and who set policy regarding it. For their benefit, as well as the benefit of civil society and other advocates (including those who work with and for women who use drugs), best practice examples are provided on public health-oriented and pragmatic drug policing with minimum harm caused. Several recommendations are also offered, many of which are based on the highlighted best practices.