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Exchanging Prevention practices on Polydrug use among youth In Criminal justice systems [EPPIC] [738162] - Project
Project abstract

Young offenders are considered one of the most vulnerable or at risk groups of developing drug problems and they are likely to be affected by a myriad of health and social inequalities. This proposal focuses on young people aged between 15 and 24 who have been in contact with the criminal justice system. The ‘health in all policies’ approach encourages consideration of the needs of this target group across policy domains, including public health.

The objectives of this proposal address the 3rd EU Health Programme: they are to gather knowledge, exchange best practice and identify transferable innovations and principles of good practice on interventions to prevent illicit drug use, the development of polydrug use and the use of new psychoactive drugs (NPS) among vulnerable young people in touch with the criminal justice systems in partner countries (Austria, Denmark, Germany, Italy, Poland and the UK); to assess identified initiatives against minimum quality standards in drug demand reduction; to examine the appropriateness of the existing standards within the criminal justice context and to develop a set of guidelines adapted to initiatives aimed at the target group; and to initiate a European knowledge exchange network for practitioners and stakeholders working with young people in the criminal justice system.

In order to understand the perspectives of the young people and those who work with them, the project employs a range of qualitative approaches including literature reviews, a scoping survey to collect new information on initiatives, interviews and focus groups, data obtained through interaction on the project website, and documented webinar discussions, consultations with stakeholders and young people and output from thematic meetings. Key outcomes include: increased policy and practice knowledge of preventive interventions, innovative practices and quality criteria among relevant stakeholders; increased engagement of professionals in a European knowledge exchange practitioner forum; awareness of new quality standards guidelines and how to access them.

Summary of context, overal objectives, strategic, relevance and contribution of the action

Adolescence and young adulthood are important periods for initiation into substance use and for use to become established patterns of behaviour. During this time, interventions are needed to prevent onset into different forms of substance use, reduce escalation into heavy substance use and intervene to reverse problematic substance use. Young offenders are considered one of the groups most at risk of developing drug problems and they are likely to be affected by a myriad of health and social inequalities. However, there has been very little attention paid to young people in contact with the criminal justice system in relation to drugs prevention policy and practice. This project focuses on young people aged between 15 and 24 who have been in contact with the criminal justice system in six European countries (UK, Italy, Denmark, Poland, Germany and Austria).

Overall objectives

1. To gather knowledge, exchange best practice and identify transferable innovations and principles of good practice on interventions to prevent illicit drug use, the development of polydrug use and use of NPS among young people in the criminal justice system.
2. To develop a set of guidelines adapted to the development of initiatives aimed at the target group based on European Drug Prevention Quality Standards.
3. To initiate a European knowledge exchange network for practitioners and stakeholders working with young people in the criminal justice system.

Strategic relevance and contribution of the action to the health programme

The project meets the objectives defined in the Third Programme of Community Action in the Field of Health, in that it will:
• Address issues of health, healthy environments, and social inequality of this group of young people (those in touch with criminal justice systems) who are at greater risk than their contemporaries of incurring problem drug use, including polydrug use and use of NPS.
• Identify and describe drug using trajectories of the target group and identify key intervention points to facilitate prevention and intervention efforts and promote healthier lifestyles.
• Identify and develop tools (e.g. guidelines for quality assurance) and mechanisms (e.g. Criminal Justice Practitioner Forum) to facilitate the implementation of ‘best practice’ approaches in EU member states.
• Facilitate the exchange of knowledge across partner countries and across other EU member states (research based and experiential knowledge, shared and jointly developed).
Furthermore, the prevention of drug use and drug-related problems among young people is one of the key pillars of the European Drugs Strategy 2013-2020. This project links to a number of objectives and actions within the EU Drug Strategy and Action Plan 2013-2020.

Methods and means

The project employs a range of qualitative approaches to:
• Collect and analyse available, published information and new data on existing initiatives and approaches and evidence of ‘best practice’ through a scoping survey.
• Conduct interviews and focus groups with young people and practitioners to capture perspectives and experiential evidence on new, innovative approaches identified in partner countries.
• Interview young people to gather their accounts of their drug using trajectories and identify factors and processes associated with the direction of trajectories, in particular transitions in and out of polydrug use and NPS use, and, in consultation with country advisory groups, identify key points for intervention.
• Examine the appropriateness of existing quality standards on drug demand reduction to the criminal justice system and develop a set of guidelines adapted to initiatives aimed at drug using young people in touch with criminal justice agencies; this work is based on data collected in and through partner and country advisory group collaboration, with input from wider feedback from stakeholders (website and social media communication).
• Assess the extent to which interventions and the set of guidelines are transferable across contexts, cultures and countries, based on workshops with country advisory groups and other relevant stakeholders, and discussion and feedback at 3rd. thematic project meeting.
• Document all consultations with the project country advisory groups, data obtained through feedback and interaction on the project website, documented webinar discussions, and the documented output from the project’s thematic meetings.
• Facilitate systematic collection and documentation of management processes, decisions and outcomes; dissemination activities, decisions, outputs and outcomes; and evaluation processes, outputs and outcomes.

Work performed during the reporting period

Work performed during the reporting period:

Over the course of the first 18 months (Jan 2017 – June 2018), the following main activities have been carried out:

Development of communication and knowledge exchange mechanisms (methods and means = Project website has been set up and twitter account has been established. All project reports have been uploaded onto the website. Project reports have been disseminated within the partner countries to relevant stakeholder groups. A discussion forum for practitioners has been set up and is available on the project website.

Production of cross national report WP4: Drug prevention interventions for young people in the criminal justice system in six European countries. Report from EPPIC Work Package 4 (methods and means = Collection and analysis of available, published information and new data on existing initiatives and approaches and evidence of ‘best practice’. This included published literature, map of legislation and regulatory approaches and scoping surveys in each partner country to collect new information on initiatives. Relevant stakeholders were identified to form project advisory groups in each partner country. Country reports were completed and uploaded on to the project website.

Production of cross national report WP5 (Phase 1): Descriptions of innovative approaches including professionals’ and young peoples’ perceptions and narratives. (methods and means = Interviews and focus groups were conducted with young people and practitioners to capture perspectives and experiential evidence on new, innovative approaches identified through WP4. Two interventions in each country were identified and described. Country reports based on data collected from young people and professionals were completed and uploaded on the project website.

Production of 6 Preliminary country reports on Quality Standards: (methods and means = The initiatives identified in WP4 and WP5 were assessed in consultation with project advisory groups, against existing European drug prevention quality standards and other guidelines for best practice. Six preliminary country reports were completed and forwarded to WP6 lead.

Action to achieve internal partner communication and collaboration: (meetings, circulation of all country and cross national reports for comment and discussion etc). Methods and means = Organisation and facilitation of project meetings (both face to face thematic meetings and virtual meetings) and frequent email communications in order to discuss project progress and outcomes.

Action to ensure monitoring of project activities: All partners completed 6 monthly reports detailing progress regarding milestones and deliverables, dissemination and communication activities; timesheets were also completed for each person working on the project. Partner reports were compiled by the co-ordinator and submitted to Chafea and to the external evaluator. The external evaluator conducted a survey and interviews with project partners and submitted the interim evaluation report (on the EU portal). The co-ordinator arranged a meeting with all partners to discuss the recommendations.


The main output achieved so far and their potential impact and use by target group (including benefits)


Over the course of the first 18 months (Jan 2017 – June 2018), the following main outputs have been achieved:

Drawing on the literature review, contextual information, the scoping survey and initial key informant interviews, six country reports were completed and a cross-national report was compiled (WP4). These reports and executive summaries are on the EPPIC website. https://www.eppic-project.eu

For WP5, country reports based on interviews with practitioners and young people have been completed and a cross national report compiled. These reports cover: descriptions of 1-2 selected innovative interventions in each country and report on interviewees’ perceptions and experiences of interventions. In total 70 young people were interviewed; 3 focus group discussions and 28 individual interviews were conducted with practitioners. These reports and executive summaries are available on the EPPIC website.

The reports and executive summaries have been disseminated to relevant stakeholders in partner countries. It is hoped that they will raise discussion and knowledge exchange among practitioners. Opportunities to comment on and discuss the outputs have been made available through the EPPIC website and other country websites.

The project has also been presented at 16 international/ national meetings and has been mentioned on the WEPHREN website: https://wephren.tghn.org/community/blogs/post/49326/2017/08/preventing-drug-use-young-people-criminal-justice-

The ultimate beneficiaries of the project and the target group are young people in contact with the CJS impacted by drug use. The results so far indicate that these young people are hard to engage outside prison/secure contexts. Additionally, there is a need to strengthen the capacity of practitioners in criminal justice, drug services, drug prevention and education, who are confronted with challenges in serving this population. They are the immediate target group for this project and each country has disseminated results from the project to relevant stakeholders. With regards to added value, EPPIC aspires to encourage more research to be developed in the realm of drug use among young people in contact with the CJS and is using the project as a platform to exchange and develop prevention practices within partner countries. Lastly, member states of the European Union themselves are the added value and the future cooperation and existing collaboration of member states on the activities of the project will be solicited over the next 18 months to ensure that the project is contextualized and will meet the needs of their populations. Discussion is underway with EMCDDA regarding the possibility of enlisting the help of Focal Points.

Achieved outcomes compared to the expected outcomes

All expected outcomes have been achieved during January 2017-June 2018:

Objective 1 (WP4):

Collect and disseminate existing knowledge and new data/ knowledge on evidence for effective approaches and interventions to address illicit drug use, in particular polydrug use and use of NPS by young people in touch with the criminal justice systems in partner countries.

Outcome/ Impact indicators: Targets: Distribution of country and cross-national report reached relevant national policy makers largely through country advisory groups; distribution of reports to national stakeholders – practitioners, policy makers and respondents to the survey; talks given at national level and presentations of EPPIC at international meetings have raised awareness of the project and preliminary findings; mention of the project and link to EPPIC website on the worldwide prison exchange network (WEPHREN), and on national websites; activity on the twitter account.


Objective 2 (WP5):

Based on the perspectives of young people and relevant stakeholders, analyse the potential for interventions (and different innovative intervention approaches) to influence drug using trajectories (prevent/ delay/ reverse/ interrupt onset/ continuance of polydrug use and use of NPS) among young people in touch with the criminal justice system.

Outcome/ Impact indicators: As for WP4 - Targets: Distribution of country and cross-national report reached relevant national policy makers largely through country advisory groups; distribution of reports to national stakeholders – practitioners, policy makers and respondents to the survey; talks given at national level and presentations of EPPIC at international meetings.


Objective 3 (WP6):

Using data collected in 1-2, examine the appropriateness of the existing European drug prevention quality standards to the criminal justice context and develop a set of guidelines adapted to initiatives aimed at drug using young people in touch with criminal justice agencies.

Although this WP has not officially started, partners agreed that it was relevant to begin collection of information from existing quality standards in the drugs and CJ fields, and from interviews with practitioners in collecting data for WP5. The following activities have been completed to facilitate process indicator 3.1 – ‘A draft set of guidelines based on and including as examples of good practice, initiatives collected in other WPs’:
• ISFF elaborated an overview of existing international and European guidelines that might be of relevance to EPPIC
• Using a template produced by the WP lead, all partners produced a short report covering: 1) a content analysis of existing national guidelines of potential use for EPPIC; 2) a preliminary analysis of responses from practitioners interviewed for WP4 and WP5 relevant to quality standards
• Based on the national reports, ISFF is currently preparing a paper on quality standards/guidelines to serve as a reference point for achieving the milestones and deliverables for WP6
• Insights from preliminary discussions with practitioners (and partners) led to a minor amendment in the specific objective of WP6 (see details in WP6 below).

Objective 4 (WP7) – not applicable this reporting period

Objective 5 (WP1) – see section below

Objective 6 (WP2):

Set up dissemination mechanisms: a project website, linked on-line forum for knowledge exchange and collaboration between relevant stakeholders working in criminal justice systems, and other mechanisms for disseminating project findings at local, national and international levels

Outcome/ Impact indicators: Presentations of the EPPIC project at national and international meetings, distribution of EPPIC reports, summaries and a newsletter within partner countries have ensured that a growing number of relevant stakeholders are aware of the project and its outcomes. Downloads of reports and hits on the EPPIC website (387 downloads of documents) indic

Dissemination and evaluation activities carried out so far and their major results

The following mechanisms and tools for communication and dissemination have been set up (January 2017-June 2018):
• A project website was developed and is being continuously reviewed and improved and populated with relevant materials and output from the EPPIC project ( https://www.eppic-project.eu ). A TWITTER account has been set up: Twitter: @eppic_project. As at 10 June 2018, the twitter account has 277 followers and has tweeted information 220 times.
• A tool for internal partner communication has been set up – Freedcamp, this provides all project partners with an exchange-tool.
• An EPPIC section has been added to some partner websites and institutional links made between partner websites and EPPIC:
(MU) http://drugandalcoholresearchcentre.org/eppic-portal/;
(AU)http://psy.au.dk/forskning/forskningscentre-og-klinikker/center-for-rusmiddelforskning/forskning/forskningsprojekter/eppic-forebyggelse-af-stofbrug-blandt-unge-i-kriminalforsorgen/
• Approaches to engaging practitioners in an on-line forum have been tested (see: http://drugandalcoholresearchcentre.org/eppic-portal/community/ ) and there is a section for comments on the main EPPIC website.
• All partners have compiled lists of relevant stakeholders for communication regarding EPPIC in their country
• A project leaflet has been produced
• Information leaflets in partner country languages have also been produced. E.g. AU: An introduction to EPPIC to be used to inform young people when contacting them for interviews. The same with a short info sheet to professionals, when contacting them. These are based on the short info that is available on the webpage, but differs in language depending on whom it is for.
• Project teams have produced 2 minute videos addressing the question, “What is EPPIC doing in your country?” These have been tweeted from the EPPIC twitter account and placed on institution websites. The UK video has been viewed 364 times. The UK video was uploaded on to twitter on 24.4.18 and has had 294 views, 18 re-tweets and 18 likes. The Danish video was uploaded at end May on both the Danish and the EPPIC webpage. It has been tweeted using the CRF twitter account.

Conference presentations and meetings: Altogether 16 conference presentations have been made by partners using EPPIC data and materials

Jan 17 – June 2018

Psycho-Soziale Kommission: Inter-disciplinary Discussion Group
30th Jan. 2018, Oberster Gerichtshof, Justizpalast Vienna
Participant: Günter Stummvoll

Gesundheit Österreich GmbH (GÖG): Drogenworkshop
23. March 2018, Vienna
Presentation: Günter Stummvoll: Therapie im Zwangskontext der Justiz – Zwischenergebnisse aus dem EPPIC Projekt (presentation of first EPPIC results)

19th. Interdisziplinärer Kongress für Suchtmedizin,.
7th. May 2018 Munich
Presentation Niels Graf and Heino Stöver: Drogenkonsum bei Jugendlichen im Arrest/in Haft – erste Ergebnisse aus dem EU-Forschungsprojekt EPPIC, Präsentation.

International Society for the Study of Drug Policy (ISSDP) Annual Conference
16-18 May 2018; Vancouver, Canada
Oral Presentation: Framing drug prevention for young people in contact with criminal justice systems: the views from practitioners and professionals. Karen Duke (UK)

UNODC Informal Technical Expert Group Meeting, Vienna
4-7 June 2018
Elements of Family Based Treatment for Adolescents with Drug Use Disorders including in Contact with the Criminal Justice System: Creating Societies Resilient to Drugs and Crime. Oral presentation: Karen Duke (MDX) The challenges of delivering therapeutic interventions to young people in contact with criminal justice settings.

Public Health England (PHE) Health & Justice Deep Dive session
June 4th 2018. Talk presenting preliminary findings from EPPIC WP4 and WP5. Betsy Thom (UK)

9th EUSPR conference and Member’s meeting
24-26 October 2018; Lisbon, Portugal. 6 papers related to the EPPIC project will be presented at this conference. Title of the session