The Drugs Offences Handbook

Tim Moloney QC, Steven Bird, Tom Stevens, Paul Mason, Harriet Johnson and Abigail Bright

£75, Bloomsbury

The ever-expanding legislative web enveloping the possession and trafficking of drugs and so-called ‘psychoactive substances’ is analysed in-depth in this helpful book. Targeted at criminal defence practitioners, this handbook has been compiled by six different contributors, including esteemed solicitor Steven Bird.


It is a comprehensive guide which encompasses categories of offence, mode of prosecution, police powers, expert evidence, sentencing and the confiscation process. As well as historical reference for helpful context, the book is divided into numbered points for easy navigation. The only criticism is that, in some instances, the numbered paragraphs divide the flow of the text, but there is a helpful summary of key points at the end of every chapter.

In terms of contribution, Tom Stevens stands out for attention to detail. It is difficult to conceive of a scenario related to the possession and supply of drugs that is not explored.

The effort to incorporate the provisions of the relatively new Psychoactive Substances Act 2016  throughout the text is to be admired, and there is even reference to the practice of ‘cuckooing’ in the excellent chapter on sentencing.

While this is a reference book, and a must for those practitioners regularly engaged in the defence of drug-related offending, it is also noteworthy for its academic qualities. In this respect, one needs to look no further than the examination of the historical application and parameters of the statutory defence to possessing drugs in section 28 of the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971.

There is practical help, too. Those looking for a simplified explanation of the confiscation process would be assisted by reference to the final chapter.

Nick Brett is a partner at Brett Wilson, London