UK to study crime and problem gambling link

Literature review highlights
Literature review highlights "dearth of knowledge" on link.

Former Attorney General Lord Goldsmith to chair a commission researching link between criminal activity and problem gambling.

UK.- Penal reform charity The Howard League has launched a commission chaired by the former Attorney General Lord Peter Goldsmith QC to investigate links between problem gambling and criminal activity.

It made the decision to carry out its own research after a review of academic literature carried out by Sarah Ramanauskas, a Senior Partner at Gambling Integrity, concluded there was “a dearth of knowledge” on the subject.

Howard League stated that millions of victims and sufferers of problem gambling consequences have been let down by the lack of relevant academic research studying vital dynamics.

In a review of academic reports, the charity found that across Australasia, the US, Canada, Germany, Scandinavia and the UK, only 50 peer-reviewed papers on the links between crime and gambling addiction had been published in the past 25-years, 

The new commission chaired by Lord Goldsmith will be tasked with analysing three areas.

The first  project will look at the prevalence of gambling-related crime; the second will investigate the experiences of those caught up in the system; and the third will explore the awareness of problems gambling among gambling addicts’ who have received criminal sentences

Lord Goldsmith QC said: “From people getting into debt and defrauding family members or employers, to domestic violence and other crimes relating to gambling-related stress, we know anecdotally that police stations, courts and prisons see significant numbers of cases – but only a handful of academic studies have looked at this across the globe.

“The criminal justice system itself does very little work to capture the scale of the challenge and even less in terms of offering interventions like those we see for alcohol or drug problems. This has to change and our Commission can play a key role in improving the response to disordered gambling and crime.”

The Howard League said that academic papers published to date showed that there was a growing consensus on gambling addiction is a behavioural disorder, but argued that there was a disconnect with the criminal justice system because problem gambling is not considered a mitigating factor in sentencing in the way that other mental health issues such as drug and alcohol addiction are.

It said that its review of literature found that researchers had identified a high prevalence of people committing crimes to fund gambling, and that despite extremely high rates of gambling addiction among prisoners, prisons offered only limited treatment for the issue, and that there was evidence prisoners resisted treatment when available. 

The literature review is available at the Howard League website.

UK support group Gamble Aware recently said that problem gamblers were not receiving enough help.

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