Illicit drugs

Managing intoxicated offenders

Best practice in responding to individuals affected by drugs and alcohol

A considerable proportion of a police officer’s time involves interactions with persons who are intoxicated or under the influence of alcohol and other drugs.

Trafficking in multiple commodities: Exposing Australia’s poly-drug and poly-criminal networks

International law enforcement agencies have increasingly pointed to an apparent rise in poly-drug traffickers: high level drug traffickers who choose to trade in multiple illicit drugs. This project provided the first detailed examination of poly-drug and poly-crime trafficking in Australia.

Drug Use Monitoring in Australia (DUMA): An expansion into the Pilbara, Western Australia

The link between the use of alcohol and other drugs, and crime has been well established by the Australian Institute of Criminology’s Drug Use Monitoring in Australia (DUMA) project in metropolitan areas around Australia. However, little is known about this link in regional Western Australia. To better understand alcohol and drug use among a regional offending population, the DUMA project was utilised to collect data in the Pilbara region of Western Australia. In South Hedland (regional Western Australia), 51 police detainees were interviewed and compared with a sample of 209 Perth (metropolitan Western Australia) detainees. The present study provides empirical evidence on the usage patterns and role of alcohol and other drugs, and a picture of the local drug market in the Pilbara. The findings indicated that alcohol use was much higher in the regional setting, however illicit drug use among those interviewed was significantly lower across most drug types. Of particular concern were the levels of risky drinking reported by South Hedland detainees; which they were more likely to attribute to their current detention. The findings suggest the holistic approach to dealing with higher levels of substance use in the region should continue. These findings will assist in responding to community needs to shape prevention and response strategies.

The social supply of cannabis among young people in Australia

Cannabis is the most prolifically used illicit drug in Australia, however, there is a gap in our understanding concerning the social interactions and friendships formed around its supply and use.

How patterns of injecting drug use evolve in a cohort of people who inject drugs

This paper investigates the frequency of intravenous drug use in a cohort of people who inject drugs, and the decline in use from 2008-2014. It provides an important indication of the effectiveness of current interventions at reducing the consumption of illicit drugs. Comparisons are made between the injection frequency of participants on or off Opioids Substitution Therapy (OST), and according to the settings in which drugs are most frequently purchased and used, such as the street or house.

Targeting the Profits of Illicit Drug Trafficking through Proceeds of Crime Action

Current methods of reporting the impact of proceeds of crime action typically underreport their effect on drug trafficking activity. This is because they rely principally on the raw value of confiscated assets without considering the downstream impact of assets denied on the future operations of the drug trafficking organisation. To address this deficit, the authors developed the Proceeds of Crime Drug Disruption Index (POCDDI), which attempts to better capture the short and medium-term impact of proceeds of crime action, taking into account current knowledge regarding the profitability and reinvestment behaviour of drug traffickers at different stages of the production and distribution process. Results support the argument that the raw value of confiscated assets substantially underestimate the real impact of proceeds of crime action, with medium-term estimates suggesting an impact of 11.9 times raw value for distributors, importers and producers of illicit drugs. Analyses of data provided by the Australian Federal Police also addressed the question of what factors are associated with successful or unsuccessful proceeds of crime actions, taking into account asset type, value, offence type and time elapsed at different stages of the case.

Policing alcohol and illicit drug use among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in metropolitan environments

Policing affords many opportunities for individual officers and police services to improve outcomes for community members and reduce the burden of substance misuse on the community. Key points highlighted concerning metropolitan areas include:

  • A broad spectrum of services is available (albeit acknowledged to often be under-resourced), providing police with a range of referral points for and information sources about local area issues.  
  • Service providers and other agencies may also be variously accountable for public safety. Police may develop partnerships with these agencies, ensuring that tight resources can be appropriately directed to meet community needs.

Service providers can help police to better understand the complex life circumstances of individuals affected by alcohol and other drugs. Benefits of information exchanges can be twofold i.e. improved police confidence in handling complex situations; and increased awareness within the service sector of the range of tasks and behaviours police are expected to perform and manage.

The bioprofiling of illicit drugs

Plain English summary and implications for police prepared by Roger Nicholas.

The role of police in preventing and minimising illicit drug use and its harms

Plain English summary and implications for police prepared by Roger Nicholas.

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