Commission on Crime and Gambling Related Harms. Source: The Howard League for Penal Reform. Fred says: (Gambling Ireland: the secret crisis yet advertising is still permitted in a time that a person with a gambling addiction has the power through the smartphone to gamble 24 hours: we need to stand on the shoulders of giants and get legislation in place soon).

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Less crime, safer communities, fewer people in prison

Commission on Crime and Gambling Related Harms

In this section

The Commission on Crime and Gambling Related Harms was launched by the Howard League for Penal Reform in June 2019. It is scheduled to run for three years and it will try to answer three questions:

  • What are the links between gambling related harms and crime?
  • What impact do these links have on communities and society?
  • What should be done?

In 2022, the Commission changed it’s name to the Commission on Crime and Gambling Related Harms (formerly the Commission on Crime and Problem Gambling) to reflect learning from research and lived experience.

  • The Chair of the Commission is Lord Peter Goldsmith QC. He leads a team of 12 Commissioners, comprising academics and professionals with expertise in the criminal justice system and public health as well as experts with knowledge of the gambling industry and lived experience of addiction.

Together, the Commissioners will investigate patterns of crime linked to gambling related harms and addiction, and the societal harms that connect the two, before seeking to make recommendations for government, the gambling industry and within the criminal justice system.

The Commissioners will focus less on individuals and treatment and more on the broader impact that the links between crime and gambling related harms have on communities and society. They will consider how people affected by gambling related harms can be diverted from the criminal justice system.

The Commission will look at the driving forces influencing change and practice, including legislation, politics and the media. It will engage with industry and political leaders throughout its work.

The Commission’s work will be promoted through national and international media and on the Howard League website.

The story so far…

Concern about harmful gambling activity has been growing for some time, but this is the first time that a commission has focused specifically on the relationship between gambling related harms and crime.

  • The Commission held its first business meeting in June 2019 and issued a call for written evidence, inviting submissions from academics, practitioners and policy makers within the criminological, legal and health disciplines; the gambling industry; and people who are expert by experience. The Commission welcomed evidence from the UK and overseas. The Commission continues to hold evidence sessions with ministers and senior stakeholders using select committee style meetings.

Media

The Commission’s work was featured in a BBC File on 4 documentary focusing on the missed opportunities within the criminal justice system to help people affected by crime and gambling-related harms.

‘Gambling on Justice’, which first aired on 31 May 2022, can be downloaded and listened to from the BBC Radio 4 website and BBC Sounds app.

Research and publications

An academic literature review has been conducted to assist the Commission in its work. The review, Crime and problem gambling: A research landscape is free to download here and the press release announcing its publication can be found here.

In October 2021, the Commission published State of Play, a briefing which summarises the evidence uncovered so far and makes some initial recommendations to government and policymakers. You can read the briefing here.

The Commission also published the report of its first research project, Sentencers’ understanding and treatment of problem gamblers. You can read the full report here, and the summary here.

In March 2022, the Commission published the report of its second research project, “Surviving, not living”: Lived experiences of crime and gambling. You can read the full report here, and the summary here.

In June 2022, the Commission published the report of its third research project, Police awareness and practice regarding gambling related harms. You can read the full report here, and summary here.

Although the name of the Commission has changed, previous publications retain the Commission’s original name to ensure continued access.

Research commissions

The Commission on Crime and Gambling Related Harms aims to answer the following questions:

What are the links between crime and gambling related harms?
What impact does this link have on communities and society?
What should be done?

The Commission has developed different research commissions aiming to answer its key questions. We are pleased to announce the findings of the first research commission have now been published, and that additional and future projects are progressing well or in development. Visit our Research Commissions page for further information.

Consultation responses

In December 2020, The Commission on Crime and Gambling Related Harms submitted to the Law Commission’s review of Confiscation under Part 2 of the Proceeds of Crime Act (POCA) 2002.  The submission can be found here.

In March 2021, The Commission made a submission to the review of the Gambling Act 2005. The submission can be found here.

In December 2021, The Commission made a submission to the NICE draft consultation on guideline scope for Gambling: identification, diagnosis
and management. The submission can be found here.

The Commission at the Fourteenth United Nations Congress on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice

Howard League hosted an ancillary meeting on crime and problem gambling at the UN Congress on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice, Kyoto, on 8 March 2021.

The recording of the full meeting is available here and the summary can be viewed below.

Looking ahead…

The Commission will continue to hold sessions to hear oral evidence from witnesses with insight into crime and gambling related harms.

The links between crime and gambling related harms will be explored further at live and virtual Howard League events in the future.

Commissioners may also conduct a field trip to at least one foreign jurisdiction with lessons for England and Wales.The commission’s work has already been cited by various branches of Canada’s gambling industry ahead of the country’s legalization of sports betting.

The Commission will publish its findings through a series of briefings and expects to publish a final report in 2022/3.

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