UCL Jill Dando Institute of Security and Crime Science


Donia Khanegi


Donia is a final year PhD student at the LAC unit. She has a background in Forensic Science and Psychology, before completing the Crime and Forensic Science MSc course at UCL. She has since branched out and worked on research projects relating to perceptions of security, human trafficking, and drug trafficking. Alongside her PhD studies, she has worked on several projects at the Jill Dando Institute and within the LAC unit. She has also worked teaching roles on MSc modules within the department relating to research design, policing, and forensic science. Her current research interests include organised crime and drug trafficking, drug policy, drug use, decision-making, and behaviour change.

Research project

The nexus between recreational drug use and the negative societal impacts of the illicit drugs trade: A comparison between England, Mexico, and Uruguay.


The unregulated market through which illicit drugs are produced, trafficked, and sold is notoriously associated with negative societal impacts, particularly violence and homicides, extortion, and corruption. This study examines the extent to which people have formed a nexus between their own recreational drug use and the negative impacts of drug trafficking, and whether increasing awareness can influence drug related behaviours. The behaviours of focus here are frequency of drug purchasing and use, sourcing of drugs (ethical vs unethical), and engagement in campaigns promoting drug policy reform. Fundamentally, it is hypothesised that changes to these behaviours can positively impact the issues associated with the drugs trade.

This study compares data gathered from England, Mexico, and Uruguay. Participants from each country offer valuable insights due to differing drug policies and exposure to the negative impacts in question. Data are gathered through various methods, including focus groups, surveys, and experiments with people who use recreational drugs. The data collected help to understand the motivations behind drug related behaviours and behaviour change more generally. Furthermore, a crime script is populated alongside data collection, describing in detail the process involved from drug cultivation to decision-making around sourcing and using illicit drugs.


Organised crime; Drug trafficking; Societal impacts; Drug policy; Drug use; Crime script analysis; Behaviour change; Decision-making