Several new concepts have originated in the international debate on drug policy interventions in recent years. ‘Open drug scenes’ is one of these concepts. Findings, predominantly qualitative, from 9 uropean cities are presented. From a contrast analysis, the concept of open drug scenes is elaborated along three dimensions (visibility, size and site), resulting in a typology of local drug scenes (concentrated open scenes, dispersed open scenes and hidden scenes). This typology is then confronted with local definitions and perceptions, as well as with major issues in the local policy debate on drug problems. As a next step, two contrasting strategies to control drug scenes are presented. These strategies are evaluated in reference to our typology dimensions as well as to the local drug policy key issues. Finally, some conclusions are drawn about the relationship between urban drug policies and the visibility of drug problems.

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