If laws and regulations are going to deter people and businesses from illegal behaviors, they must be accompanied by significant penalties, and they must be enforced, through surveillance, community policing, and arrests. Think about it—a lot more people would speed if speeding tickets cost only $5 or if police didn’t use radar guns. Instead, drivers who might otherwise speed are deterred by the possibility of being pulled over and receiving a big fine and insurance penalties. It is the application of penalties that makes the difference.
Enforcement and policy are closely connected, but there are important reasons to draw a distinction between them. We separate policy and enforcement for three reasons:
Enforcement strategies can be broken down into four major categories:
As prevention practitioners, there are many ways to use enforcement to strengthen prevention programs. For example:
The key to effective enforcement is visibility: People need to see that substance use prevention is a community priority and that violations of related laws and regulations will not be tolerated.
Developed under the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s Center for the Application of Prevention Technologies contract (Reference #HHSS277200800004C).