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Tolerance zones: a pragmatic approach to respond to problems related to open alcohol and drug scenes in Bremen/Germany

Susanna Prepeliczay (Institute of Public Health and Nursing Research (IPP), Department of Health and Society, University of Bremen, Bremen, Germany)
Henning Schmidt-Semisch (Institute of Public Health and Nursing Research (IPP), Department of Health and Society, University of Bremen, Bremen, Germany)

Drugs and Alcohol Today

ISSN: 1745-9265

Article publication date: 27 July 2021

Issue publication date: 8 September 2021

Abstract

Purpose

This study aims to describe and analyse an approach in the city of Bremen (Germany) to establish streetwork-supported tolerance zones for local open drug and alcohol scenes to reduce related disorder and nuisance in public spaces.

Design/methodology/approach

The qualitative methodology included systematic participant observations at public sites of drug and alcohol use, and problem-centred interviews with different groups of respondents (residents, passers-by, trades people, drug users, experts from addiction help and police).

Findings

In residential districts, tolerance zones were well accepted by their target group and found to reduce perceived disorder and nuisance in public space. However, their success depends on the social and spatial conditions of the chosen location, its surrounding urban infrastructure, cooperation among local actors and characteristics of drug using groups.

Originality/value

Usually, policing of open drug scenes focuses on repression and law enforcement. The example of Bremen suggests that streetwork-supported tolerance zones dedicated to the drug scene can substantially reduce disorder and nuisance in public space.

Keywords

Acknowledgements

The project was funded by the German Ministry of Education and Research (Bundesministerium für Bildung und Forschung).Conflicts of interest: none.

Citation

Prepeliczay, S. and Schmidt-Semisch, H. (2021), "Tolerance zones: a pragmatic approach to respond to problems related to open alcohol and drug scenes in Bremen/Germany", Drugs and Alcohol Today, Vol. 21 No. 3, pp. 225-235. https://doi.org/10.1108/DAT-12-2020-0082

Publisher

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Emerald Publishing Limited

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