Monograph no. 53
The three pillars of Australia’s drug policy are: supply reduction; demand reduction; and harm reduction. Supply reduction policy focuses on reducing the supply, or increasing the cost of, illegal drugs through such actions as crop eradication, drug seizures, arresting drug importers and distributors etc. While there is much evidence to support the effectiveness of demand and harm reduction measures, there is less evidence supporting the effectiveness of supply reduction policy.
The purpose of this study was to improve on, and further contribute to this area of knowledge and examine the impact of seizures and supplier arrest on the use and associated harms of three drugs: heroin, cocaine, and amphetamine type substances (ATS).
Monograph no. 52
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.
Monograph no. 50
Innovative solutions for enhanced illicit drugs profiling using comprehensive two-dimensional gas chromatography and mass spectrometry technologies
Analytical gas chromatographic methods usually rely upon a single dimension (ie single column) high-resolution capillary GC column to provide separation of target analyses. When a matrix is especially complex, the ability of the column to provide adequate resolution is severely compromised. Often, mass spectrometry may provide the ability to uniquely measure the target compounds, but if the matrix generates similar ions to the target compounds, this can lead to confounded analysis. Mass spectrometry offers many potential solutions to the lack of resolution of GC; however, this usually involves selected ion monitoring or similar approaches. This removes the important opportunity to use a full-scan spectrum to match with a database library. In the present project, high-resolution GC analysis using the multidimensional separation method of comprehensive two-dimensional gas chromatography (GCxGC) was used to provide sufficient resolution to allow full-scan acquisition with library confirmation of illicit drug identity. It was shown that the WADA criteria for a selection of test steroid compounds could be suitably met under this new high-resolution environment. In addition, analysis of samples of ecstasy were profiled and all synthetic residues involved in the synthesis of ecstasy could be fully resolved and located in the 2D separation space with excellent library matches, even though the underlying matrix was very complicated and would have strongly interfered in a 1D separation analysis. This will allow facile profiling of the reaction procedure for ecstasy synthesis.
Monograph no. 49
Prohibiting public drinking in an urban area: Determining the impacts on police, the community and marginalised groups
Public drinking laws have proliferated across urban areas over the past 15 years; however, there have been very few evaluations of their impacts and effectiveness. The purpose of this project was to evaluate public drinking laws across three diverse inner-urban local government areas (LGAs) of Melbourne: the Cities of Yarra, Darebin and Maribyrnong. The objectives of this project were to evaluate the implementation of public drinking laws, the effectiveness of these laws and the impact of these laws on a range of target groups including police, residents, traders, local health and welfare workers, and potentially marginalised groups. The evaluation produced equivocal findings in relation to whether public drinking laws reduced congregations of drinkers (with differing findings across municipalities) and there was no evidence that these laws reduced alcohol-related crime or harm. However, public drinking laws do make residents feel safer and improve the amenity of an area from the perspective of residents and traders. The evaluation found that public drinking laws often result in negative impacts to marginalised individuals and this requires more consideration in the implementation and enforcement of these laws. It is important that public drinking laws are carefully considered, implemented and enforced (with local council officers and police liaising collaboratively to respond to the needs of the individual community) and are coupled with community-specific social inclusion strategies.
Monograph no. 48
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.
Monograph no. 47
This study represents the first randomised controlled study of a resilience training program, based on empirical evidence and designed to inoculate emergency services personnel against job stressors. It has highlighted the fact that the vast majority of police recruits were resilient to exposure to traumatic events. Findings at six-month follow-up indicate that more than half of all participants reported a total substance or alcohol involvement score that was at risk level. This suggests the need for clear, comprehensive and widely known policies and procedures to be put in place to identify and support those with either substance or alcohol use problems Overall, the results of this study provide support for the inclusion of resilience training in the overall training of new-recruit police officers until further, long-term follow-ups suggest otherwise.
Monograph no. 46
Patron Offending and Intoxication in Night-Time Entertainment Districts (POINTED) is a massive project which interviewed almost 7000 patrons between November 2011 to June 2012, and conduct almost 900 hours of hours of observation of patrons in pubs and clubs. Entertainment precincts surveyed included King Street and Prahran in Melbourne, Northbridge in Perth, Kings Cross and Darling Harbour in Sydney and the Wollongong and Geelong night-time entertainment districts. The project showed that across Australia, after 1am, almost 30 percent of 6500 patrons tested had a blood alcohol content (BAC) of above 0.1 with the highest averages in Geelong and Perth. An average of 65% reported pre-drinking (or pre-loading) before to going out and the main reason to pre-load was to save money. Consuming five or six drinks before going to the pub indicated a higher risk of heavy alcohol consumption and risky behaviour, such as drink driving. The study also showed a high propensity for the use of high energy drinks (HED) – either in an alcohol mix or separate, and HED users generally had a higher BAC reading and experienced more aggression and injury. Most HED users had, on average, exceeded the daily recommended dose by 11pm. Finally, around one in four people are believed to have used drugs. This study was the first of its kind to use drug swabs to validate people own reports. It found between 1 and 2 people in every five had used drugs, but that one in four was the most likely average across the country. The main drugs admitted to were cannabis, amphetamines and ecstasy. Suggested policy directions from the study include: alcohol companies pay for health warning TV advertisements directly after the screening of pro-alcohol ads; ceasing the sales of high energy drinks from 10pm; the imposition of tighter trading hour restrictions; ceasing the sale of alcohol in venues an hour before closing; increasing the price of alcohol through taxation (preferably based on volume and increasing according to beverage strength) to include pre-packaged alcohol used for preloading, to allow for specific expenditure on measures that ameliorate harm, and; the banning of two for one, and bulk discount alcohol deals. [Revised October 2013]
Monograph no. 45
It is widely recognised that data from the Emergency Department is a better measure of violence in the community than police statistics. But other data sources should also be used where possible. Cairns is a large regional centre in far north Queensland. Around one-quarter of injuries due to violence requiring treatment in the ED at Cairns Base Hospital can be linked with the Cairns late night entertainment precinct, a tiny area of less than one square kilometre in the inner city. Alcohol is involved in the overwhelming majority of injuries due to violence in Cairns generally. In this study, a surveillance system for incidents of person-to-person violence was developed and tried in the Cairns late night entertainment precinct.
Monograph no. 44
This study, conducted in 2008 and 2009, sought to provide a rich description of the Australian methamphetamine supply chains and to conduct an economic evaluation of four law enforcement interventions directed at different levels of the methamphetamine market.
Monograph no. 43
The ‘Dealing with alcohol-related harm and the night-time economy (DANTE)’ study compared the effectiveness of alcohol-related crime prevention measures put in place between 2005 and 2010 through licensing regulation in Newcastle (NSW) and the voluntary programs run in Geelong (Victoria). The study reviewed hospital, police and ambulance records to evaluate the rates of alcohol-related harm. 4000 patron interviews and 129 unannounced venue observations were undertaken and community attitudes towards alcohol-related harm and the available policy options were also canvassed. Across this very large range of data, the key findings were that a substantial amount of harm was associated with pre-drinking and that measures that dealt directly with alcohol consumption employed in Newcastle, such as restricted trading hours, were the most effective in reducing alcohol-related crime. The study found such measures need to be implemented across all venues, rather than just a specific venues to ensure a level-playing field for business and act as a vehicle for culture change amongst patrons. A range of interventions analysed in the study were found ineffective, including: locking patrons out of clubs after 1.30am, clubs closing by 3.30am, banning alcohol shots after 10pm and limits on the number of drinks being served (as mandated by licence conditions in Newcastle) and the introduction of ID scanners, improved communication between venues and police and education campaigns (which were voluntary in Geelong).Strong, consistent policing using substantial personal fines was also found effective, but requires policing levels which are seldom sustained. Illicit drug use is fairly low, but does predict greater experience of violence and harm. The community surveys revealed that most people believed alcohol was a problem in their entertainment precincts and that nine out of ten people believed licenced venues should shut by 3am. There was similar support for more police on the street. The study concluded that while night-time economies, such as nightclubs and bars, are an important part of our urban and regional centres they are also places where violence and injury occur at great cost to the community. Using policies based on the evidence of this and other independent research can help create safe and vibrant night-time entertainment districts.