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Evaluation of the "Know the Score" drugs campaign - Research Findings

DescriptionThe report summarises the findings of an evaluation of a national drugs campaign aimed at reducing drug misuse, drug related offending and raise awareness of the dangers of drugs in the community.
Official Print Publication Date
Website Publication DateSeptember 25, 2002


    Crime and Criminal Justice Research Programme
    Research Findings No.63/2002

    Evaluation of the "Know the Score" drugs campaign

    This document is also available in pdf format (108k)

    The "Know the Score" drugs campaign was a multi-agency initiative that ran from May to early September, 2001. This study was undertaken to evaluate the extent to which the "Know the Score" campaign achieved its objectives, particularly of increasing enforcement activity and raising awareness of the harmful and complex nature of drug use.

    Main findings
    • The overwhelming majority of those involved in the conduct of the campaign considered it to have been successful and worthwhile - with considerable success in communicating messages about the negative aspects of drugs to the campaign's target groups.
    • The campaign found evidence for success in increasing enforcement activity. During the campaign period, there was an increase of around 12% in the number of recorded drugs offences compared to the previous year and a threefold increase in the quantities of drugs seized compared to the same period in the previous year.
    • The campaign was also successful in terms of awareness raising. Nearly 1200 separate activities or events took place as part of the campaign, despite the inhibiting effects of the Foot and Mouth outbreak at the time. The press and radio coverage to support these activities throughout the campaign was extensive.
    • For many of those interviewed in the study, a major achievement of the campaign was its emphasis on joint working between police, local authority, health and other organisations. The campaign helped to strengthen existing partnerships between participating organisations both locally and nationally, develop new partnerships and increase inter-agency communication and understanding of respective roles. The results of the study should be of benefit to similar campaigns and multi-agency working on drug-related and other issues in the future.

    The "Know the Score" drugs campaign ran from May to early September, 2001 (with additional enforcement action during April). The decision to mount the campaign was taken by the Crime Committee of the Association of Chief Police Officers in Scotland (ACPOS). It was designed as a national multi-agency initiative involving all Scottish police forces and Drug Action Teams (DATs) along with local authorities, voluntary agencies and numerous other organisations nationally and locally. It aimed to:

    • increase enforcement activity against drugs dealers
    • raise awareness of the facts of drug use, particularly amongst young people
    • encourage healthy lifestyles not involving drugs
    • provide diversion activities for young people during the summer months
    • publicise, for the general public but particularly for parents, teachers and others with responsibility for young people, the complex issues around drugs in society and the services available
    • reduce the harm caused by drugs to existing users and to others.

    The Scottish Drug Enforcement Agency (SDEA) played a coordinating role in the campaign, both in chairing its national steering group, and supporting enforcement and education activities.

    In addition to the national steering group, each police force area was encouraged to establish a local steering group for the campaign, to help bring together the relevant organisations, and to plan the local implementation of the campaign. The structure of these local groups varied from force to force and some proved to be more effective than others. A pivotal role in each force area, however, was that of the campaign co-ordinator or local champion for the campaign.

    Locally, Drug Action Teams (DATs) were encouraged to play a role in the campaign. In some instances the DATs were closely involved in the planning and execution of the campaign, while in others their involvement was more limited.

    The campaign was supported financially by the Scottish Executive, and by project funding provided by Scotland Against Drugs. Strathclyde Police also provided support by making the services of its Consultancy Unit available for monitoring the activity and progress of the campaign.

    Research methods

    The research consisted of five main strands of activity:

    • analysis of the available statistics to identify the quantitative achievements of the campaign
    • a questionnaire survey of all Drug Action Teams
    • interviews with members of the national steering group
    • interviews with representatives of the relevant organisations in each of the police force areas
    • workshops - one in each police force area, and one at national level, to validate the interim findings of the research, and to enable as many people as possible to contribute to the evaluation.

    In all, the research involved over 80 interviews with organisations involved in the campaign, eight workshops involving a total of 140 people and a questionnaire survey of all Drug Action Teams throughout Scotland.

    The statistical monitoring covered a broad range including: police statistics of charges and arrests for drugs offences; numbers and quantities of seizures; details of individual activities undertaken in the campaign (and the number of people participating in them); the numbers of people contacting the drugs reporting telephone lines; the number and nature of press releases issued by the police forces; the number and nature of articles appearing in the press; and the subject matter of radio broadcasts carried by radio stations in the Scottish Radio Holdings group. For comparison, other sources of statistics were examined where possible - including the Recorded Crime Statistics compiled by the Scottish Executive (from police sources) and the Crown Office statistics of drugs-related offences reported to Procurators Fiscal.

    Research findings

    The campaign

    The campaign was considered by nearly everyone who was involved in it to have been a success. For some, it was viewed as "ground-breaking", being the first multi-agency campaign on a national scale, involving all eight police forces in Scotland. The press coverage and radio broadcasting incorporated in the campaign was extensive with a wide range of material concerning the Campaign being broadcast over a six week period.


    There were many identifiable achievements of the campaign. These can be summarised as follows.

    • enforcement - significant increases were achieved in the numbers of charges and arrests for drugs offences and in seizures.
    • intelligence gathering - although not quantified, the police reported a significant increase in the gathering of drugs intelligence during and after the campaign, which they described as being "in the bank for the future".
    • events and activities - successful planning and co-ordination of nearly 1200 individual events or activities throughout Scotland.
    • information - a substantial number of people, possibly up to 500,000, were directly or indirectly contacted during the campaign period through various advertising and other awareness raising initiatives. In addition, an estimated 22% of the population heard and could recall at least part of the message transmitted by Scottish Radio Holdings radio stations in the campaign.
    • partnerships - the creation of a significant number of new partnerships locally, and the strengthening of existing partnerships.
    Learning points

    A number of lessons were learned in the course of the campaign, derived from both the successes and the difficulties experienced.

    The need for Early Partnership Discussion and Agreement

    Adequate time is needed for planning a campaign of the scope of Know the Score, and which involves so many partners, in order to allow for developing the necessary partnerships and appropriate budgetary or staffing provision. Developing partnerships takes time - particularly for individual partners to develop an understanding of the perspectives, needs and constraints of the other participants involved. To assist the process, there may be value in providing training in partnership working to those who are to be involved in a campaign.

    The importance was identified of jointly discussing and agreeing the objectives for such campaigns amongst all the partners as fully and as early as possible, at both national and local level, in order to achieve full acceptance of, and commitment to, the campaign objectives and approach.

    The important role of the DATs in coordinating drugs-related activity at a local level was also identified as requiring to be taken into account in this process, as was fully involving the DATs in the detailed planning of campaigns.

    Within the partnership, there needs to be mechanisms to provide mutual support and encouragement for all the participants, to avoid feelings of isolation, and to encourage active participation.

    The need for effective steering groups both locally and nationally was evident from the study to ensure that all participating organisations are involved in the campaign at an appropriate level.

    The need for Monitoring and Evaluation

    The basis for evaluating campaigns needs to be developed at the planning stages, so as to be closely linked to the objectives of the campaign, and the activity of the campaign needs to be carefully recorded to contribute to the evaluation. This might include, for example, the time expended by participants, what was achieved and costs incurred.

    The objectives themselves should be SMART (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Time-Limited), so as to provide a clear basis for monitoring the achievement of the campaign against its planned objectives.

    The time of year for the campaign needs to be selected carefully - some argued that Know the Score was well-timed since it enabled young people to be targeted through the summer months, while others argued that staff resources for the campaign were depleted during this time because of holidays.

    The duration of the campaign also needs to be carefully planned in relation to the intensity of the activity, so as to ensure that the momentum of the campaign can be sustained throughout its duration.

    The importance of a Clear and Individual Identity for the campaign

    A high profile campaign requires a clear identity and branding, supported by high quality publicity and support materials, made available to participants well ahead of the campaign start date, to enable these to be used to encourage local participants to come on board, and to enable local opportunities for funding to be fully explored. The branding, however, needs to be chosen carefully to avoid confusion between the campaign and other local and national initiatives running at the same time with similar names. The title and strap-line for the campaign need to give a clear message about the nature of the campaign and of its objectives, in a form which is acceptable to all the partners.

    In planning the campaign, particularly at local level, full account should be taken of existing activities of local organisations. If planned effectively, these activities can be incorporated into the campaign and the campaign can bring support and publicity to them. This process of involving local activities can be greatly assisted by involving local communities and community groups in the planning and execution of the campaign.


    Overall, the Know the Score campaign was viewed by the overwhelming majority of those involved as a major success, in terms of its achievements and the public attention that it attracted. A key role within the campaign proved to be that of the local campaign co-ordinator, and the experience of the campaign enabled specification of that role to be developed for the future. Inevitably, because of the large scale of the campaign, the heavy dependence on partnership working and the short timescale, there were some uncertainties and problems. Lessons were, however, learned which can influence future instances of working in partnership.

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