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Yes, has no meaning if you can’t say no: consent and crime in the chemsex context

Stephen Morris (Her Majesty’s Prison and Probation Service, London, UK)

Drugs and Alcohol Today

ISSN: 1745-9265

Article publication date: 11 January 2019

Issue publication date: 21 February 2019




The title of this paper is a statement made by a man at the end of his treatment following conviction for several sexual offences. It is powerful in conveying a simple and accurate meaning of consent. Legally, consent is not complicated and can be simply defined as: permission for something to happen or agreement to do something. The context of consent, however, is complicated and complex none more so than when it becomes an issue within chemsex. If we are to gain a full appreciation of consent-related complexity, we must also gain an understanding of the wider picture concerning chemsex and crime. The purpose of this paper is to provide that wider picture. With the exception of breaching of drug-related law, not all men who engage in chemsex are committing offences but, as we are discovering, a not insignificant percentage are and this needs to be cause for concern.


This study is a review and a personal perspective of the development of a criminal justice response to crime within the chemsex context.


This was a personal viewpoint, not a research project; therefore, there were no definitive findings.


This paper addresses lack of awareness within the criminal justice system in relation to chemsex, and the associated vulnerabilities. This work is original because there is a shortage of published work on the rise in chemsex-related crimes.



Morris, S. (2019), "Yes, has no meaning if you can’t say no: consent and crime in the chemsex context", Drugs and Alcohol Today, Vol. 19 No. 1, pp. 23-28.



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