Durham University

Policy, Professions and Communities Research Group


Professor Fiona Measham

Personal web page

Professor of Criminology in the Department of Sociology

(email at f.measham@durham.ac.uk)


Fiona Measham was appointed Professor of Criminology in the School of Applied Social Sciences at Durham University in 2012. Fiona has conducted research for over two decades across a broad area of criminology and social policy, exploring changing trends in legal and illegal drugs; the night time economy and the socio-cultural context to consumption; gender; the regulation and policing of intoxication; electronic music scenes and club cultures; issues of deterrence, displacement and desistance; and broader policy implications. A key feature of her research has been the development of in-situ methods of data collection in pubs, clubs and festivals, a working environment with which she is familiar, having spent her early adulthood working in bars and clubs across several continents in various guises.

Current Research Projects

Fiona’s current research programme includes:

  1.  A rolling programme of short action research projects from 2010 onwards exploring emergent drug trends in order to inform health service provision in north west England – including surveys in schools, bars and clubs in the night time economy; qualitative research with a range of youth and young offender groups; and a mixed methods study of e-cigarettes, vaping and shisha use – funded by Lancashire County Council and Public Health England;
  2. An annual programme of festival research from 2010 onwards, assessing drug use, policing and regulation at festivals, combining surveys, stakeholder interviews, waste water analysis and introducing a model of on site forensic testing for public safety – Multi Agency Safety Testing (MAST) – along with evaluation of information and brief interventions with festival-goers – funded by ISCD and N8 PRP, in partnership with The Loop drug and alcohol service;
  3. Cross disciplinary in situ research in the night time economy assessing prevalence, patterns, problems and policing of drug use, including 6 years of annual surveys at London gay clubs; exploring perspectives on consumption, risk and pleasure; charting policy impact at local level; and triangulating self report data with interviews, observations, forensic analyses and waste water analyses, in partnership with Guy’s and St Thomas’ NHS Trust.


Fiona completed her basic and advanced postgraduate teaching certificates in 2005. Alongside Fiona’s undergraduate and postgraduate taught modules on Drugs, Crime and Society she is also Director of the Durham University Inside-Out prison exchange programme. After completing her US Inside-Out training at Macomb correctional facility in Michigan in 2013, she established the Durham University programme with colleagues in 2014. Together a team of four US-trained Inside-Out instructors along with EAP tutors and teaching assistants deliver an annual rolling programme of undergraduate and postgraduate modules in two men’s and one women’s prisons as well as monthly Inside-Out think tank meetings at HMP Frankland with Insider alumni. For more details see: https://www.dur.ac.uk/sass/crim/insideout/


Fiona was appointed to the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs by the Home Secretary in 2009. At ACMD she is currently Chair of the ACMD Polysubstance Use Working Group and sits on the ACMD New Psychoactive Substances and Watch List standing committees and PSA/MDA Working Group. Other recent public appointments include to the Home Office Ministerial Expert Panel on New Psychoactive Substances (2014) by Norman Baker MP, Minister for Crime Prevention (as the only social scientist), Public Health England’s Drug Treatment Expert Reference Group (2015/6), the independent expert panel on cannabis regulation funded by the Liberal Democrats (2015/6) and Institute of Licensing Previous Convictions Policy relating to Taxi Licensing Expert Panel (2015/7).

Fiona is a member of DrugScience (previously the Independent Scientific Committee on Drugs) and the UK Early Warning System. She sits on the editorial boards of Contemporary Drug Problems; the International Journal of Drug Science, Policy and Law; and Drugs and Alcohol Today.

Awards for her writing

  • ‘Tweaking, bombing, dabbing and stockpiling: the emergence of mephedrone and the perversity of prohibition’, Drugs and Alcohol Today, (2010) 10 (1): 14-21, won the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction ‘Scientific Paper Award’ 2011, judged on scientific significance, EU policy relevance, originality and creativity, and clarity and quality of writing.
  • ‘Mephedrone, ‘Bubble’ and Unidentified White Powders: The contested identities of synthetic ‘legal highs’ ’, Drugs and Alcohol Today, (2011) 11 (3): 137-147, won the Emerald Literati Network 2012 Awards for Excellence ‘Outstanding Paper Award Winner’ for best paper of 2011 published in the journal Drugs and Alcohol Today.
  • The monograph by Parker, Aldridge and Measham (1998) Illegal Leisure: The normalisation of adolescent recreational drug use (1st Google Scholar citation under ‘recreational drug use’, cited by over 600) is based on a longitudinal study that she was the lead researcher on in the 1990s. The follow-up monograph by Aldridge, Measham and Williams (2011) Illegal Leisure Revisited was runner-up for the 2011 American Society of Criminology International book award.

Third Sector Work

Fiona is committed to the development of evidence-based, non judgemental support services at leisure venues through the integration of academic research, policy and practice and works closely with a range of events to enhance health and wellbeing at festivals and nightclubs. She is co-founder and co-director of The Loop, a not-for-profit community interest company that provides an integrated service of drug, alcohol and sexual health advice, brief interventions, forensic testing, festival welfare, research and support to emergency services: www.wearetheloop.org. The Loop has a large team of trained, experienced drug, alcohol and sexual health volunteers who work at festivals and nightclubs throughout the UK and Europe.


Fiona regularly contributes to quality media outlets.

Watch Fiona discussing the prevalence and problems of new psychoactive substances on BBC Breakfast TV:



Listen to Fiona discussing her festival research and charity work at Parklife festival on R4 Woman’s Hour:


Listen to Fiona discussing her binge drinking research on R4 Thinking Allowed:


Listen to Fiona discussing women’s ketamine use on R4 Woman’s Hour:


Read her article in The Guardian on UK trends in drug use:


Read her blog about press coverage of cannabis at:


Read press coverage of her research at:





Authored book

Chapter in book

Journal Article


Media Contacts

Available for media contact about:

  • Drink & drugs:
  • Criminology: