Trends in crime and the introduction of a needle exchange program

Am J Public Health. 2000 Dec;90(12):1933-6. doi: 10.2105/ajph.90.12.1933.


Objectives: This study sought to determine whether introduction of a needle exchange program would be associated with increased crime rates.

Methods: Trends in arrests were compared in program and nonprogram areas before and after introduction of a needle exchange program in Baltimore. Trends were modeled and compared via Poisson regression.

Results: No significant differences in arrest trends emerged. Over the study period, increases in category-specific arrests in program and nonprogram areas, respectively, were as follows: drug possession, 17.7% and 13.4%; economically motivated offenses, 0.0% and 20.7%; resistance to police authority, 0.0% and 5.3%; and violent offenses, 7.2% and 8.0%.

Conclusions: The lack of association of overall and type-specific arrest data with program implementation argues against the role of needle exchange programs in increasing crime rates.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Controlled Clinical Trial
  • Evaluation Study
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Baltimore / epidemiology
  • Crime / statistics & numerical data*
  • Crime / trends*
  • Health Services Research
  • Humans
  • Needle-Exchange Programs / organization & administration*
  • Police / statistics & numerical data
  • Program Evaluation
  • Regression Analysis
  • Substance-Related Disorders / epidemiology
  • Substance-Related Disorders / prevention & control
  • Violence / statistics & numerical data
  • Violence / trends