Class A Drug Addiction Criminology Essay


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The dissertation aims to find out to the extent that class A drug addiction of the drugs heroin and crack or freebase cocaine have on the users rate of criminality. In order to complete this research, I have chosen to use secondary data as a means of evidence, to support the hypothesis.

The reason for using secondary data is because of the elusive and dangerous nature to cover in terms of using primary data. Moreover looking into Class A drug use is a difficult topic to cover therefore using secondary data will allow me to overcome some limitations to the research and will enable access to data that would not normally be accessible, if primary data was to be collected for analysis. For example, I would not have access to users of these substances and therefore would find it difficult to generate statistics on crime in relation to these users of my own accord, especially seen as though large institutions such as the police cannot accurately measure the rate of this crime. Although that is not to say that using statistics from that of the leading authorities such as the police force and the home office is not to be taken into consideration. Using previous research that may have had the time, experience and resources needed to provide the answers to all the questions raised. This is something that will benefit this dissertation, as it is on a smaller timescale and volume that some other studies conducted in this area.

Secondary data will enable me to explore the literature in order to create a discussion for the dissertation. It will allow me to analyse larger, higher quality of research and this is something which would be impractical for me to do independently. The reason of this is, as the link between class A drug user and criminality of the user is not so clearly defined, with many different perspectives on this matter , it would be difficult to get a clear representation of the views of society and the users themselves (particularly that of the users) towards the perceived drug user-crime link. Secondary data will allow me to explore previous work, from experts in this particular field, something which will also benefit the findings of this dissertation.

Since secondary data is now available in more forms; libraries, journals, online journals, and online sources given by institutions such as the home office, it offers more convenience and a standardised use of methods from all different sources, in which there will be little or no anomalous data to be processed. Also, as secondary data already is already present it will save time to collate the data. This is somewhat of an advantage , due to the short timescale for this dissertation.

Although secondary data may save time, previous research could bring limitations to this dissertation, as it may not be as specific to my research needs as would be ideal, especially when it comes to providing the latest and up to date policies, statistics and treatments. Though a lot of data may be available, on this area the data may be 'out of date' and not entirely 'up to speed' with the current reality of Class A Drug use. This is a factor that may be a problem in the validity of the findings and call for the reliability of the points made in this piece to be questioned, as views may have changed over recent years. This dissertation will aim to avoid out of date research to ensure that the findings are valid. However it is worth noting that this will not be avoidable when reference to classical thinkers is made.

In order to gain access to the secondary data, I will use a wide range of books, journals, online journals, published reports, official statistics, and newspaper articles where applicable. I have chosen to use these resources, as they will offer me reliable and concise data, which will be both a hybrid of both quantitative and qualitative data types. After all the data is collected, I will analyse the data, by comparing, contrasting and combining different research to come up with answers to best fit the dissertation title.

Chapter 3

Chapter 4

4.0 - Introduction

The substances that are linked to drug fueled criminality in the UK are often the use and addiction to the Class A substances of heroin and crack cocaine. These two drugs account for the majority of drug driven crime, as they are both highly addictive substances in which the user can and often become addicted in a single use of the substance. Therefore it justifies the classification band in which it is placed as these are amongst the most socially problematic drugs in society. However heroin is often the most common culprit in crime linked drug addition, it is often supplemented with the use of crack cocaine in a way of managing the high experienced whilst under the influence of heroin. It is not uncommon for heroin users to self-medicate themselves on a combination of the two to counter balance the effects of the drugs against each other, to keep a 'clear head' and enable the highest level of functionality whilst under the influence. Often this is said to be to enable them to carry out their daily tasks to acquire their next dose of drugs. People have been using drugs consistently throughout history, much longer than it has been considered a problem both socially and criminally. Tammy Salah suggests that drug use has been prevalent since ancient times (Salah, p6). However, significant major changes have occurred in the pattern of drug taking in the last four decades. In the 1950s very few people indulged in any form of drug, other than alcohol or cigarettes. However, this situation has gradually evolved as we have converted into somewhat of a drug culture. Whilst not all take drugs, drug use is apparently more socially accepted than ever before.

4.1 - The Drugs used

Heroin use is something that has been on a steady increase since the end of World War II, at which time the Mafia took advantage of the apparent weakness of the Italian government at this time and the geographic location of the territory of Sicily, something that the Italian Mafia had almost complete control over at this time. This is where the set up laboratories for the refinement of the heroin product they had imported from central Asia and Arabic regions and India giving it a prime location for further distribution into mainland Europe and that U.S.A (Schweider, 2008). Since this time distribution of heroin has evolved and there is no single crime group that is thought to be responsible as there has been previously, however it is suggested that the majority of importers of heroin are gangs of a Pakistani heritage with family and community links with the UK. Moreover the majority of this is done through the means of legitimate parcel delivery couriers, meaning that often the links to those connected with the trafficking of the best part of 18-23 annual tones of heroin is notoriously difficult (SOCA, 2013). Addiction to heroin is a profound problem in the contemporary UK as of the 327,466 estimated problem drug users in the UK 281,320 of these problem drug users are that of heroin users (Home Office, 2006). Heroin addiction is something that is riddled with issues in many areas from health to that of crime. Heroin is an illicit substance that is a natural ingredient that is extracted from that of the opium poppy (Papaver somniferum); it is cultivated in high quantities in the districts such as South East Asia, Afghanistan, Pakistan, northern India, China, Iran, Turkey, Cyprus, Greece and the Lebanon. The properties that this plant contains have been recognised for thousands of years and the use of opium was known by much of the ancient world for its use in medicine. In which it was often smoked or dissolved into water for drinking, for the use of pain relief (Emmett, D. & Nice, G., p.139). Heroin as a substance is something that is notoriously something that is linked to that of dependence. Drug dependence as a term refers to behavioral responses or experiences that are inclusive of a compulsion to take the drug in order to experience its physical and psychological effects. Heroin however, due to its highly addictive nature is sometimes used to avoid the distress of the absence of the substance, although this is not reason for its initial use it is something that is common amongst users as a preventative measure against the symptoms of withdrawal from the drug (Rassool, 2009).

Crack cocaine on the other hand does not share a similar lineage of history, as is a relatively new development when compared with that of heroin. Crack or freebase cocaine is something that developed in inner-city areas of the U.S.A in the mid 1980's (Reinarman., et al.1997). Made from that of regular cocaine, the discovery of the reaction the drug takes when made soluble in water with the additive of sodium bicarbonate (baking soda) (Estroff, 2001).This simple transformation of the drug made it something that was up taken by many, as they realised the addictive properties of this now smoking enabled form of cocaine, thus a thriving market for this drug began to develop. As this market progressed and popularised it was then up taken in other countries and had moved into Europe by the late 1980's to early 1990's.

The prevalence and level of these drugs in the public domain is amongst one of the main issues in terms of drug addiction. For the access and availability to these substances is of course a factor into their uptake and continued use. Availability theory which according to Ghodse (1995) the accessibility of the drug is a condition for the misuse and dependence of drugs, indicating that the greater the prevalence of the substances in a community the greater the use of the drugs. Henningfield et al.. (1991) goes on to add that influences such as social pressure, cost and marketing of drugs alongside substance availability are great indicators of the rate of drug use in a community. This sees why there is a higher concentration of illicit drug use in inner-city areas, for inner city areas are the places where the drug market is most exposed to more buyers.

Paul Goldstein (1995) outline's a theory directly related to that of drug crime specifically in which he states ways in which drugs and crime are related, primarily through that of economical compulsiveness as drug users are motivated to commit crime and engage in criminal behaviour due to their lack of monetary means. Goldstein highlights that high demand drugs such as heroin and cocaine are the most relevant drugs in this classification as they are the most addictive to the user and the most expensive to purchase, resulting in higher crime rates of users of these substances to acquire means of funding their habit. Public opinion of drug using offender follows Goldstein's theory on this issue as the British crime survey alongside the 'omnibus survey' (Charles, 1998) reflected as the majority of the public put fourth that they thought the main cause of crime in the UK were drug related. Further the Home Office 'research findings pamphlet' (Charles, 1998), displayed how a third of respondents felt that theft for drugs was a very big problem in their local area. This states a large public opinion on the 'life of a drug addict', as that of criminality and social exclusion.

It almost certainly comes as no surprise that drug abuse rates are higher in areas where drugs are easily available, which is generally run-down urbanised areas. It is not difficult to consider that unwelcoming personal circumstances can lead people to seek 'escape 'through drugs. Gradually, after taking substances such as heroin and crack cocaine for extended periods, the individual acquires a tolerance to this powerful opiate and therefore results in the need of more of the substance to achieve the same effect as before. This coupled together with a physical dependence on heroin and crack cocaine, means that ever increasing amounts of these drugs must be used than before to fight off the symptoms of withdrawal, particularly in the case of heroin.


Serious Organised Crime Agency (SOCA). (2013). Drugs. [Internet] Available from: <>. Last accessed 5th March 2013.

Emmett, D. and Nice, G. (1996). Understanding Drugs: A Handbook for Parents, Teachers and Other Professionals. London: Jessica Kingsley Publishers Ltd.

Home Office. (2006). Measuring different aspects of problem drug use: methodological development. [internet] Available from: Last accessed 5th March 2013.

Goldstein, P. (1995). Cited in: Bean,P. (2002). drugs and crime. Devon: Willan Publishing. p.23-25.

Rassool, G.H. (2009). Alcohol and Drug Misuse. Oxton: Routlege.

Reinarman, C. and Levine, H.G. (1997). Crack in America: demon drugs and social justice. London: University of California Press.

Estroff, T.W. (2001). Manual of Adolescent Substance Abuse Treatment. Washington D.C: American Psychiatric publishing.

Ghodse, A.H. (1995). Drugs and Additive Behavior. Oxford: Blackwell Science.

Henningfield, J.E., Cohen, C. and Slade, J.D.. (1991). Is nicotine more addictive than cocaine?. British journal of Addiction. 86 (5), p.565.

Schweider, E.C (2008). Smack: Heroin and the American city. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press. p.1-17.

Chapter 5

5.0 - Introduction

It has been established that there is somewhat of a relationship between drug use and the criminality of the user through the relevant literature of Holloway and Bennett (2004), Foster (2000), Keene (2001) and Goldstein (1995). However it is crimes of acquisition that are amongst the biggest factors of criminality by that of heroin and crack cocaine use. Acquisitive crimes provide the users with the fastest turnaround in terms of gaining money to feed their habits. Chaiken and Chaiken (1990) Walters (1994) and De Li, Periu and MacKensie (2000) highlight this relationship in the view that crime makes drug use possible and drug use provides the reasonable need in which to commit criminal activity. This highlights the view of which there is somewhat of a reciprocal relationship between that of drugs and crime.

5.1 - A crime of acquisition

The secondary crime associated with drug addiction that poses the most problems to society, as it is apparent that drug users need large sums of money to support their addictions. However for many of those in the addiction of drugs such as heroin, it is often difficult for these people to acquire the costs required by legitimate means. From this the frequent choice is to commit crimes, particularly that of property crime to provide for their habit. Chaiken and Chaiken, (1990) explain that a high level drug user is likely to commit between 80-100 serious property offences per year and for female users, prostitution is often a likely path to follow to support their addiction. This is something that is supported by longitudinal studies support the view that high levels of drug use are associated with high levels of crime. Moreover the same is true for low-levels of drug use, in which low levels of crime is associated with it. Something that is particularly true for that of heroin users, as there seems to be a direct correlation between that of the regular dosage of the substance and the criminality of the user in terms of secondary, acquisitive and property crime. A study of heroin users in Merseyside showed how the rates of burglary increase when heroin use increases (Parker, H. et al., 1988). This links together that heroin use and acquisitive crimes go hand in hand as a means to sustain the user's need of addiction. This is a point that is mirrored by Bennett (2000),Coid et al., (2000) and Edmunds, Hough and Turnbull (1999) as they too discuss how that acquisitive crimes of the Class A drug users seem to be the primary method in which users and addicts fund their use of these substances. Hough and Turnbull (1999) go on to explain that the use of substances such as heroin can increase the offending rates significantly of previous offenders due to the higher financial needs they face in order to feed their addiction. Further the work of Stewart et al., (2000) highlights the factor that Users of Heroin and crack cocaine are amongst the most prolific and frequent offenders of acquisition type crimes.

That said however it would be over generalised to state that all Class A drug users are offenders and all offenders are addicts, this is something that becomes increasingly true as we look down the social classes. As Class A drug associated crimes, heighten in the lower social classes such as the underclass.

Amongst drug users themselves, it is not uncommon for them to comment that they only have interest in the commitment of such crimes to purely feed their drug habit and often imply that should they not be on drugs that they would no longer commit crime, something that provides a distinctive correlation between users and crime levels, although anecdotal in nature is a view that is commonly shared throughout the heroin user community. The link between drugs and crime is not so distinguished however, as many studies that promote the drug use turning to crime, to pay for the addiction, many studies do not look at a control group to compare the crime rates and often only use a relatively small sample size. This therefore opens the possibility for other explanations such as psychological, sociological, and economical factors that could contribute to the link between both drugs and crime.

5.2 - Policing the problem

Regardless of the causal links between drugs and crime, it unquestionably causes significant problems for the police service, enforcement agencies and the communities they serve. Substances such as heroin, as stated above come with problems of acquisitive crimes of much of its user base. Therefore it is a problem that must be policed from both ends of the spectrum to reduce such statistics. From that of high level organised crime syndicates to that of street level offences caused by the user.

Pre 2005 the way of policing drugs was organised according to the guidelines set in the 1985 Broome report (ACPO, 1985), in which regional, force level, divisional level enforcement of drugs was the route used. Regional crime squads combatted drugs at a national/ international level, whilst force level drugs squads were liable for mid- market drug related crime and activity and officers at divisional level were responsible for that of enforcement on their local streets. However this was seen by many as something that was perhaps a naïve way of looking at how drug crime is structured, in that this way of policing is something that offers little crossover and specialisation towards tackling drug related crime in its entirety. Bean (2002, p.124) concurs with this as he notes 'The Broome strategy was based on the belief that drug markets operated according to a model derived from a police officer's view of the structure and importance of policing'. Suggesting the police force was matching high level ranking officers with high level drug suppliers and dealers, something that was greatly changed with the formation of the Serious and Organised Crime Agency (SOCA). This new form of enforcement has the combined powers of the police, customs and immigration. For SOCA their approach focuses primarily on policing those involved with drug crime at the very top of the of the drug world hierarchy, not that of street level crime issues relation to drugs. This is an area the theoretically produces the best return on the money invested by the government, by stopping the arrival of such substances into the UK. As the majority of drugs found here in the UK are derived from natural substances harvested from other areas of the globe.

Although with SOCA the dominant strategy of tackling drug offences from the top down is still something that is aimed at taking out the supply sharing many of the viewpoints that were included in the Broome report. This is something that can be argued to have little effect on the level of drugs entering our streets, as there are many high level dealers and traffickers that evade apprehension. Arresting and prosecuting high level drug offenders does very little in terms of preventing or even slowing the thriving drug market. This is a view mirrored by Webster et al. (2001), as it was found by this study that the although a 'crackdown' on drugs was initiated by that of the metropolitan police there was no lack of availability of Class A drugs. Additionally Kleiman and Smith (1990), note that policing authorities do not seem to notice the times and places that drug offences, mostly that of dealing occur and this is highlighted by that of there are often less police patrols in the night time hour than at other times.

Policing issues that are both directly and secondarily linked with drugs, is something that is a very complex issue as there are many directions in which drugs are to be policed from the cultivation and production of substances such as crack cocaine and heroin, to the dealing of the drugs to that of the end user on local street level. Until policing can prevent all systems from the top down from producing and making the drug an available commodity for sale then these issues are something that will continue on into the future. This is especially difficult with the level of corruption with the authorities involved as money is the controlling factor when it comes to power and the choice of whether to sweep such things 'under the carpet' and informing the drugs underworld of coming threats from inside that of the police service. Although this is not something that is openly admitted to occur by the police, it is something that is not welcomed by the police and they actively seek to remove corruption from their organisation. However, for every officer found to be guilty of corruption, there is most certainly more in place to replace them (Clark, 2001). Although this is something that could be preventative of the issues being reviewed in that of the user's criminality, it is merely one area in which the drug market can be tackled to prevent the social and criminal issues of users. Use of imprisonment as a deterrent for users to dis-continue their life of drugs and criminal behaviour is a notion that often proves popular in the opinion of the majority. Although this is something that is to be questioned, as although imprisonment symbolises the moral turmoil to an individual whom does not follow the norms of society, particularly when such actions are punishable by law it is, not always the best action to take in terms of reforming characters and rehabilitating offenders. Deterrence is something that neither deters nor prevents illicit drug use, as for individuals to be deterred from such actions the risk to reward ratio must be calculated by the user. For many drug users whom live in poor social and economic situations, the reward of drug use is something that perhaps surpasses any lawful impediment that may be present to deter them from this lifestyle.


ACPO (1985) 'Final Report of the Working Party on Drugs Related Crime (the Broome Report)', Cited in Bean, P. (2002) Drugs and Crime. Devon: Willan Publishing. p.123.

Bean, P. (2002) Drugs and Crime. Devon: Willan Publishing.

Chaiken, J. and Chaiken, M.. (1990) 'Drugs and Predatory Crime'. In: Tonry, M. and Wilson, J.Q. Drugs and Crime. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

Clark, R. (2001) Informers and corruption. Cited in Billingsley, R., Nemitz, T. and Bean, P. (2001) Informers: Policing, policy, practise. Devon: Willan Publishing.

Parker, H., Newcombe, R. and Bakx, K. (1988). Living With Heroin: The Impact of Drugs 'Epidemic' on an English Community. Milton Keynes: Open University Press.

Webster, R., Hough, M. and Clancy, A. (2001) An evaluation of the impact of operation crackdown 2001. London: Metropolitan police service.

Edmunds, M., Hough, M. and Turnbull, T.J. (1999) Doing Justice to Treatment: Referring Offenders to Drug Treatment Services. Drug Prevention Initiative Paper No.2. London: Home Office.

Coid, J., Carvell, A., Kittler, Z., Healey, A. and Henderson, J. (2000) Opiates, Criminal Behaviour and Methadone Treatment. RDS occasional paper. London: Home Office.

Bennett, T. (2000) Drugs and crime: the results of the second developmental stage of the NEW-ADAM programme. Home office research study 2005. London: Home office.

Stewart, D., Gossop, M., Marsden, J. and Rolfe, A. (2000) Drug misuse and acquisitive crime amongst clients recruited to the national treatment outcome research (ntors). Criminal behaviour and mental health, 10, p.13-24.

De Li, S., Priu, H. D., & MacKenzie, D. L. (2000) Drug involvement, lifestyles, and criminal activities among probationers. Journal of Drug Issues, 30, p.593-619.

Walters, G. (1994) Drugs and crime in lifestyle perspective. London: Sage.

Chapter 6

6.0 - Introduction

It is a point to be argued that although Class A drug addiction is manifested in that of a criminal offence. Although it can be argued that, irrelevant of the substance consumed that addiction is somewhat of a disease and therefore is that of a medical and social issue over that of a judicial problem. This is the case for many users, as they only commit acquisitive crimes and engages in prostitution as a means to fund their addiction. Therefore theoretically if the issue of addiction was removed, there would be less crime. As money spent changing lives of those with addiction would be more beneficial and also more cost effective to the user and society, rather than merely imprisoning problem drug users. However politically this is not such a simple theory, as rehabilitation for users over that of incarceration is riddled with issues on legality of the substances at question and could therefore not act as a deterrent if the only punishment is to put users into rehabilitation over that of a sentence of imprisonment. If this model alone is adopted offences would go un-punished and give individuals little deterrent from involvement with such substances, if a model of pure rehabilitation was to be implemented.

The importance of withdrawal symptoms is a point to note in the criminality of drug users, as the unpleasant symptoms of withdrawal, particularly from that of opiates are driving factors in their continued use (Grunberg, 1994). Therefore treatment for heroin use in the form of methadone is a common substitute drug for those whom suffer from heroin addiction. Methadone is a Drug that has increased in is rate of prescription in the UK as there was a doubling of this treatment method over the ten year period of 1995-2005 (Strang et al., 2007). Caplehorn et al., (1993) have noted that the more methadone prescribed to the individual, the less the user would seek to use heroin. Although this is a treatment method that is equally as addictive as that of heroin, therefore it is not uncommon for users to continue to use heroin when their prescribed dose of methadone is reduced. This is a treatment method that can therefore be seen as a 'quick fix' to reduce crime and social harm, even though it does not tackle the problem of addiction, but rather displaces it into a legal constitution.

However this is merely one the first steps into that of recovery for addiction, other measures have been implemented that supports addiction recovery in that of measures of control that have been implemented through that of The Criminal Justice and Court Services Act, CJCS (2000) which gave courts the power to order drug testing, ultimately giving them the power to implement a collection of treatment orders. Such as Drug Treatment and Testing Orders (DTTO) which requires the offender to undergo treatment for up to three years. Also under section 19 of the Criminal Justice Act 2003 the 1976 Bail Act was amended to allow a restriction for those whom test positive for drugs and do not agree to assessment and treatment for their addiction, to be refused bail (Home office, 2010). Amendments to this act also provided the police with new powers such as the powers to drug test individuals placed in their detention for crimes classified as 'trigger offences' which include many acquisitive offences such as shop-lifting. Also the failure to provide a drug test sample for these offenders becomes its self a criminal offence that is punishable with that of a significant fine. This is something that has increased users compliance to enter into drug treatment initiatives such as the Criminal Justice Intervention Programme (CJIP), in which both drug and socially based treatments are made available to the user in the way of methadone and a support worker. Test results from such offenders are made available to the courts to assist them in making their decisions on the details of the offenders bail and sentencing conditions.

The Drug strategy (2010) has highlighted that in some cases users may need custodial sentencing, however this is to be implemented alongside that of rehabilitation for their addiction. Further it highlights a demand for more community based sentencing for users in which a drug treatment must be adhered to alongside their community sentence, as this scheme highlights that imprisonment 'may not always be the best place for individuals to overcome their dependence and offending behaviour' (Home office , 2010. p.12). A Drug interventions programme (DIP) is the means in which the 2010 drug strategy has planned to ensure that offenders seek treatment for their addiction at every opportunity, in their contact with the criminal justice system (CJS) in that drug dependent users are targeted to enter into recovery focused services whether that be in the community or during imprisonment. This is to be done by 'Developing and evaluating options for providing alternative forms of treatment-based accommodation in the community', 'Making liaison and diversion services available in police custody suites and at courts by 2014' and 'Diverting vulnerable young people away from the youth justice system where appropriate' (Home office , 2010. p.12). In addition to these policies that focus on that of community based addiction recovery, the Drug strategy also highlights the importance of services to deal with drug addiction within prisons. Where wing-based and abstinence recovery services are provided, in the aim that users can begin to live their lives 'drug-free' and thus cut down the rate of drug users offending.

On the face of it, the obvious choice for rehabilitation of drug users would be to place them under a probation order or supervision for their drug rehabilitation, with the aim of abstinence from drugs. This is something that seemingly tackles the primary triggering factor in the illicit activities of drug users, particularly in those dependent on crack cocaine and heroin. For as previously stated heroin users are responsible for the majority of criminal activity of all drug users. However this is somewhat of a grey area as there is little lawful pathways in which to follow, and can therefore be implemented at the digression of the courts and indeed that of the police officers (Bean, P. 2002). Therefore a hybrid approach to drug users involved in crime is something that is to be taken into consideration**********


Grunberg, N. (1994) 'Overview: biological processes relevant to drugs of dependance'. Addiction, 89 (11).

Strang, J., Manning, V., Mayet, S., Ridge, G., Best, D. and Sheridan, J. (2007) 'Does prescribing for opiate addiction change after national guidelines? Methadone and buprenorphine prescribing to opiate addicts by general practitioners and hospital doctors in England, 1995-2005'. Addiction, 102 (5).

Caplehorn, J.R.M., Bell, J., Kleinbaum, D.G. and Gebsji, V.J. (1993) 'Methadone dose and heroin use during maintenance treatment', Addiction, 88 (1).

Home Office (2010) [internet] Drug Strategy 2010 reducing demand, Restricting supply, building recovery: Supporting people to live a drug free life. London: Home Office. Available from:>. Last accessed April 4th 2013.

HMSO (2003). [internet] Criminal justice act 2003. Sec (19). Available from: Last accessed 4th April 2013.

Bean, P. (2002). Drugs and crime. Devon: Willan Publishing.

Chapter 7

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