Dr Leah Moyle

Dr Leah Moyle

Lecturer in Criminology

School of Society and Culture (Faculty of Arts, Humanities and Business)



I joined the University of Plymouth in 2023 from Royal Holloway, University of London where I was a Senior Lecturer in Criminology and Sociology (2014-2023). During this time I also undertook a two year Post-Doctoral Research Fellowship at Griffith Criminology Institute in Australia (2016-2018). I am a qualitative researcher with an interest in drug markets, drug dealing and cultures of drug use. My research focusses primarily on understanding illicit drug markets and 'non-commercial' drug supply through sociological and criminological frameworks. I have published widely in this area and I am currently working on projects that explore the policing of street drug markets, sentencing approaches towards low-level drug dealers, and understanding vulnerability in street-level drug markets. I have more recently explored the intersection of sex and drugs through a Wellcome funded project on 'Pharmosexuality' with Dr Alex Dymock (Goldsmiths, University of London).

I have presented my research findings to a number of academic and lay audiences including Public Health England, RUSI, the Centre for Crime and Justice Studies (Glasgow), the Academy for Social Justice, schools, and Youth Offending Teams. My research findings have been published in the following international and national media outlets including Le Monde, Die Welt, Times of Malta, BBC News, The Guardian, The Independent, Vice Media, and The Face. My research on social supply and user-dealing of heroin and crack cocaine featured in the Global Commission on Drug Policy report (2016) ‘Advancing Drug Policy Reform: A New Approach to Decriminalisation’. It was also cited in the UK Government’s Violent Crime Strategy (2018), and was a heavily cited source in the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction and Europol’s 2019 EU Drug Market Report.

Along with academic publications I have also gained experience of undertaking commissioned research with local stakeholders and partners including Drug and Alcohol Action Teams, Police and Youth Offending Teams. I have worked on three Drug Market Rapid Appraisals (DMRAs) and have experience of fieldwork design, data collection, analysis and dissemination in local policy contexts.

I am Editor of Methodological Innovations with Dr Eric Harrison (City, University of London), Dr Roxanne Connelly (University of Edinburgh), and Dr Ruth Boyask (Auckland University of Technology). https://journals.sagepub.com/home/mio 


2010 - 2013: PhD Sociology (University of Plymouth)

2009: MSc Criminology and Criminal Justice (University of Plymouth)

2007: BSc (Hons) Criminology and Sociology (Cardiff University) First Class



Teaching interests

I have convened and taught across many undergraduate and postgraduate modules including Introduction to Criminology, Key Perspectives in Criminology, Criminal Justice, Introduction to Sociology, Forensic Psychology, Youth Justice, and Drugs Crime and Society. 

I am a UK Higher Education Academy Fellow (achieved with commendation).

Staff serving as external examiners

External Examiner - University of Surrey (Farnborough College of Technology)

External Examiner - University of Bath



Research interests

The Conceptualisation and Penal Response to ‘Social Supply’: One of my core research areas relates to social supply. My research has aimed to explore the scope and nature of social supply (recreational drug supply to friends/acquaintances for little or no profit) as well as critically analysing the current penal response to social suppliers, both in the UK and overseas.

Street-Level and Online Drug Markets: Complimenting social supply, my research extends to the policing and punishment of low-level suppliers operating in street-level drug markets. My principal focus here has been on understanding the social context of heroin and crack cocaine ‘user-dealing’, and more recently the evolution of street-level heroin and crack cocaine distribution through ‘county lines’ drug supply. I have also recently become interested in the intersection between street-level supply and online technology, leading the first empirical research study on social media drug markets. Research in this area has achieved real world research impact, with citations in government strategy, international media, NGO policy reports and invitations to policy workshops (see below).

‘Pharmacosexuality’: This Wellcome funded project utilised archival scoping to situate ‘pharmacosexuality’ historically and trace the provenance of more established ‘drugged’ sexual practices. This project application was co-written with Dr Alex Dymock (who acted as PI as I had undertaken my leave of absence at Griffith University). As Co-I I was involved in all aspects of project design and intellectual leadership. I was also responsible for leading the empirical component of the project, exploring how people use in sexual contexts contemporarily.


Research degrees awarded to supervised students

Alex Aldridge (2023): 'F***ing and Being ****ed: Towards a Sexual Politics of Sex on Drugs' 

Grants & contracts

‘Test Purchases in Undercover Drugs Policing: Reconfiguring Strategic and Operational Practice as part of the Vulnerability Agenda’. £24,975 ESRC Vulnerability and Policing Futures Centre. Start date: June 2023

Responding to County Lines Offences – Examining Charging and Sentencing decisions’ £2427 Reid Research Fund, School of Law and Social Sciences. Start date: January 2022

‘Pharmacosexuality: the past, present and future of sex on drugs’ £34,041 Wellcome Trust Seed Funding, Alex Dymock (PI) and Leah Moyle (Co-I). Completed: 1st May 2020.

‘Exploring Vulnerability in County Lines Drug Markets’ £2332 Research Support Funding Royal Holloway, University of London. Completed: September 2016




Bull, M., Coomber, R., Moyle, L., Durnian, L., & O'Brien, W. (2021). Sentencing for social supply of illicit drugs in Australia. Trends and Issues in Crime and Criminal Justice, (638), 1-15.

Moyle, L., Dymock, A., Aldridge, A., & Mechen, B. (2020). Pharmacosex: Reimagining sex, drugs and enhancement. International Journal of Drug Policy, 95, 10293.

Windle, J., Moyle, L., & Coomber, R. (2020). ‘Vulnerable’ Kids Going Country: Children and Young People’s Involvement in County Lines Drug Dealing. Youth Justice. doi:10.1177/1473225420902840

Moyle, L. (2019) Situating vulnerabilities and exploitation in street-level drug markets: Cuckooing, commuting and the ‘County Lines’ drug supply model. Journal of Drug Issues. 49(4) 739-755

Moyle, L., Childs, A., Coomber, R., & Barratt, M. (2019). #Drugsforsale: An exploration of the use of social media and encrypted messaging apps to supply and access drugs. International Journal of Drug Policy, 63, 101-110.

Spicer, J., Moyle, L. and Coomber., R. (2019) The Variable and Evolving Nature of ‘Cuckooing’ as a form of Criminal Exploitation in Street Level Drug Markets. Trends in Organized Crime, 1-23.

Moyle, L & Coomber., R. (2018) Student transitions into drug supply: Exploring the University as a ‘Risk Environment’. Journal of Youth Studies. 22(5), 642-657

Coomber R., Moyle, L., Belackova, V., Decorte, T., Hakkarainen, P., Hathaway, A., Joe Laidler, K., Lenton, S., Murphy, S., Scott, J., Stefunkova, M., van de Ven, K., Vlaemynck, M., & Werse, B. (2018) The Burgeoning Recognition and Accommodation of the Social Supply of Drugs in International Criminal Justice Systems: A Ten-Nation Comparative Overview. International Journal of Drug Policy. 58, 93-103.

Bull, M., Coomber, R. P. N., & Moyle, L. (2018). The nature of drug supply and suppliers in Australia: social supply and sentencing. Yunnan Jingguan Xueyuan Xuebao, (Yunnan Police College Journal).

Coomber, R., & Moyle, L., (2017) The Changing Shape of Street-Level Heroin and Crack Supply in England: Commuting, Holidaying and Cuckooing Drug Dealers Across ‘County Lines’. British Journal of Criminology. 58(6), 1323-1342

Coomber, R., Moyle, L., & Mahoney, M. (2017) Symbolic policing: situating targeted police operations/‘crackdowns’ on street-level drug markets. Policing and Society, 1-17.

Moyle, L., & Coomber, R. (2016) Bourdieu on supply: Utilising the theory of practice to understand heroin and crack cocaine user-dealing. European Journal of Criminology.14(3) 309-328

Coomber, R., Moyle, L., & South., N. (2015) The Normalisation of Drug Supply? The Social Supply of Drugs as the Other Side of the Normalisation Debate. Drugs, Education, Prevention and Policy 23(3), 255-263.

Moyle, L., and Coomber, R. (2015) Earning a Score: An Exploration of the Nature and Roles of Heroin and Crack ‘User-dealers’, British Journal of Criminology 55(3), 534-555. doi:10.1093/bjc/azu087

Moyle, L., Coomber, R., & Lowther, J. (2013) Crushing a Walnut with a Sledgehammer? Analysing the Penal Response to the Social Supply of Illicit Drugs, Social and Legal Studies, 22(4) 553-573.

Coomber, R., & Moyle, L., (2013) Beyond Drug Dealing: Developing and Extending the Social Supply of Drugs to Minimally Commercial Supply. Drugs: Education Prevention and Policy, 21 157-164.


Moyle, L. (2023) Just 'sorting' their mates? The identities, roles and motivations of social suppliers. In T. Ayres and C. Ancrum (Eds.). Understanding Drug Dealing and Illicit Drug Markets. National and International Perspectives. Abingdon: Routledge.

Coomber-Moore, J., South, N., Coomber, R., & Moyle, L. (2023) 'Steroid holidays' as drug tourism and deviant leisure. In T. Ayres and C. Ancrum (Eds.). Understanding Drug Dealing and Illicit Drug Markets. National and International Perspectives. Abingdon: Routledge.

Coomber, R., Childs, A., Moyle, L. & Barratt, M., (2023) Digital Transformations of Illicit Drug Markets: Continuity and Reconfiguration. Emerald Publishing

Coomber, R. Bacon, M., Spicer., J and Moyle., L (2022) Symbolic Drugs Policing., Conceptual Development and Harm Reduction Opportunities. In M. Bacon and J. Spicer (Eds.) Drug Law Enforcement, Policing and Harm Reduction: Ending the Stalemate. Abingdon: Routledge

Coomber, R., Moyle, L., & Pavlidis., A. (2017) Public Spitting in ‘developing’ nations of the global South: Harmless embedded practice or disgusting, harmful and deviant? In K. Carrington, R. Hogg, J. Scott, & M. Sozzo (Eds.), The Palgrave Handbook of Criminology and the Global South (pp. XVIII-1068). Springer. doi:10.1007/978-3-319-65021-0.

Coomber, R., Moyle, L., & South, N. (2016) Reflections on Three Decades of Research on ‘Social Supply’ in Bernd Werse and Christian Bernard (eds.), ‘Friendly Business’: European views on social supply, self-supply and small-scale drug trade, Springer VS. (pp. 13-28). doi:10.1007/978-3-658-10329-3_2