Faculty of Education, Social Sciences and Law

Sociology and Social Policy

Contact Details

Research Students

Dr Mark Monaghan

Lecturer in Sociology, Social Policy and Crime

I have a degree in sociology from the University of Liverpool and completed my postgraduate studies here at Leeds. I work mainly in the area of social policy and crime, but my work is influenced by my background in sociology. I am also an Associate Editor of Evidence Policy.

Research Interests

My primary research interests revolve around the area of evidence-based policy-making. This has taken me in numerous directions. I have explored the relationship between science, evidence and policy making in the area of drugs policy and also the interplay between the precautionary principle and evidence-based decision-making. More recently, I have been looking at how recent welfare reforms and changes in drugs policy have impacted on drug users and am currently preparing research publications on state crimes and crimes of the powerful.


I mainly teach in the area of crime and related issues. I currently convene the Level One Module - 'Deviance, Crime and Social Control' and the Level Two Module 'Drugs: Society, Policy and Politics'. At Level Three I co-convene (with Dr Simon Prideaux) a module on Organized Crime and Violence.

PhD Supervision

I currently supervise and I am keen to supervise potential students with an interest in the following areas:

  • Counter-terrorism policy
  • Drugs policy (international and domestic)
  • Crime and welfare
  • Health Crimes
  • The policy process and evidence-based policy making

Key Publications


  • Monaghan MP (2011) Evidence Versus Politics: Exploiting Research in UK Drug Policy-Making. Bristol: Policy Press.

Journal Articles

  • Monaghan MP; Wincup E (2013) “Work and the journey to recovery: exploring the implications of welfare reform for methadone maintenance clients”, International Journal of Drug Policy.

  • Monaghan MP; Pawson R; Wicker K (2012) “The Precautionary Principle and Evidence-Based Policy Making”, Evidence and Policy. 8.2: 171-191.

  • Monaghan MP (2012) “The Evolution of UK Drugs Policy: From Maintenance to Recovery?”, People, Place and Policy Online.

  • Monaghan MP (2010) “The Complexity of Evidence: Reflections on Research Utilisation in a Heavily Politicised Policy Area”, Social Policy and Society. 9.1: 1-12.

  • Monaghan M (2008) “The Evidence-Base in UK Drug Policy: The new rules of engagement”, Policy and Politics. 36.1: 145-150.

  • Monaghan MP “Drug Policy Governance in the UK: Lessons from changes to and debates concerning the classification of cannabis under the 1971 Misuse of Drugs Act”, International Journal of Drug Policy. [Accepted]

    Author URL [www.sociology.leeds.ac.uk]

    Background Drugs policy is made in a politically charged atmosphere. This is often not seen to be conducive to the ideals of evidence-based policymaking. In the UK over recent years the efficacy of the 1971 Misuse of Drugs Act (MDA) has been one of the most widely discussed and debated areas of UK drug policy. Since inception, the MDA 1971 has remained relatively stable with very few drugs moving up or down the scale and until recently, and with very few exceptions, there has been little public debate on the nature of the system. This changed in the run up to the cannabis reclassification in 2004 from class B to class C, through the reverse of this decision in 2009 and the fallout between the Government of the time and leading members of the Advisory Council of the Misuse of Drugs. Methods Based on wide-ranging survey of the literature and secondary analysis of various official publications and academic commentaries, this paper considers what the cannabis episode can tell us about the current state of UK drug policy governance. Results Previous research on drug policy governance has suggested that policy goals should be clearly articulated so as to avoid confusion over what constitutes evidence, decision-makers should be ‘evidence-imbued’ and there should be widespread consultation with, and transparency of, stakeholder engagement. The interpretation here is that recent changes to cannabis legislation reveal that these aspects of good governance were called into question although there were fleeting moments of good practice. Conclusion The use of evidence in drug policy formulation continues to be bedevilled by political stalemate and reluctance to countenance radical reform. Where evidence does play a role it tends to be at the margins. There are, however, potential lessons to be learned from other policy areas but this requires a more pragmatic attitude on behalf of decision-makers.

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