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Police awareness and practice regarding gambling related harms

Gambling related harms: Police awareness and practice


Gambling harms and addiction are understood to lead to crime being committed in a number of ways (Ramanauskas, 2020:15). Though most commonly linked to acquisitive crime, a growing body of evidence explores the links to other types of crime including violent interpersonal offences. This focus on police awareness and practice stems from developing understanding about criminal justice awareness, as well as knowledge of good practice at the police station. The police custody suite is a significant engagement point, not only with the criminal justice system, but with other health and social services and in particular Liaison and Diversion (L&D) staff.

The aims of this research were to:

  • Explore police understanding of gambling related harms and crime, and their operationalisation of this understanding in daily practice
  • To provide a window onto the broader picture of the nature of gambling related harm and crime
  • To highlight the role of police custody as criminal justice gatekeepers
  • To share good practice
  • And finally, to challenge existing narratives about the nature of gambling related crime

The research was conducted using Freedom of Information (FOI) requests submitted to police forces in England and Wales, and case study interviews with police custody staff and Liaison and Diversion practitioners.


In June 2022 the research findings were published in a full report, available here, and summary, available here.

Research team

The research was conducted by Dr Helen Churcher, Research and Projects Officer at the Howard League for Penal Reform.

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