Monograph no. 47

The prevention of trauma reactions in police officers: Decreasing reliance on drugs and alcohol

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)

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

Alcohol, assault and licensed premises in inner-city areas

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

Evaluating drug law enforcement interventions directed towards methamphetamine in Australia

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

Dealing with alcohol-related harm and the night-time economy


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: 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.

Monograph no. 42

Assessment of the utility of obtaining human profiles from drug seizures

The majority of drugs in seizures were found to contain human DNA which rarely came from a single individual. Attempts to resolve mixed STR profiles of DNA extracted from drug seizures was ineffective as the ratio of individual alleles is not preserved during amplification and varies from locus to locus. However, hypervariable sequences in mitochondrial DNA provide a means of determining the number of contributors to a sample and gaining information which allows tactical comparison of seizures with the possibility of identifying individuals situated higher up the distribution chain. Methods for reliable extraction of DNA from seizures are described and two methods for resolution of mixed mitochondrial sequences presented: by cloning and also by next generation sequencing, a cloning free method that is more suitable for forensic purposes.

Monograph no. 41

Evaluation of the deterrent effect of Random Breath Testing (RBT) and Random Drug Testing (RDT) - The driver's perspective

The evaluation involved a mixed methodology, where review and a qualitative component guided the development of a survey to assess the deterrent effect of random breath testing (RBT) and random drug testing (RDT), and a quantitative component measured the influence of various law enforcement practices on a driver’s decision to drink/drug drive. In order to ascertain aspects of law enforcement practice that have the greatest deterrence value to drivers, analysis on Australia-wide data was performed. The project focused on identifying which law enforcement practices have the greatest deterrent effect on drivers who consume alcohol and/or drugs, and who indicate they are likely to drink drive and/or drug drive in the future from the driver’s perspective.

Monograph no. 40

Law enforcement and khat: An analysis of current issues

"Khat" refers to the leaves of the Catha edulis tree. While khat has been chewed for centuries by people in countries in the Horn of Africa region for its stimulant properties, in recent years its use in Australia has increased as more people from the region, particularly Somalia, have settled here. Drawing on focus groups conducted with over one hundred Somali and Ethiopian people in Brisbane, Melbourne, Sydney and Perth and on interviews with police service / force employees in those states, we examine current issues associated with the use and regulation of the plant and problems for law enforcement.

Monograph no. 39

Reducing the methamphetamine problem in Australia: Evaluating innovative partnerships between police, pharmacies and other third parties

Illicit methamphetamine use is a continuing, significant problem, with prevalence rates In Australia among the highest in the world. Australian policy responses have been focused on supply reduction strategies, and especially law enforcement. While traditional policing of drug problems relies mostly on reactive measures, innovative approaches involving third parties are increasingly popular. Third party policing partnerships engage non-police to help develop and coordinate crime prevention strategies. In Australia, Project STOP has been developed by police, pharmacists and other partners to reduce the diversion of legal pseudoephedrine products into illicit methamphetamine production. The aim of this study was to evaluate this partnership in two different States, which have adopted different approaches to its implementation. The importance of both a supportive regulatory framework and organisational support for innovative approaches to drug control are discussed, and a best practice framework is suggested.

Monograph no. 38

Drink or drunk: Why do staff at licensed premises continue to serve patrons to intoxication despite current laws and interventions?

Addressing drinking behaviours, intoxication and the resultant behaviours from intoxication in Australia is influenced by several issues?the social acceptability of intoxication, the acceptance of licensed venues as places where intoxication happens and a general belief that violence and aggression at licensed venues is inevitable. Over the past 20 years, Australia has made significant moves to address issues of alcohol-related harm and violence through server regulations such as RSA training, State and Territory liquor controls, security legislation and through localised liquor management plans and accords. Despite such interventions and media attention around the risks associated with unsafe drinking habits, intoxicated people continue to be able to easily access alcohol and be served in licensed venues. The aim of the current study was to gain an understanding of why staff at licensed premises continue to serve patrons to intoxication and the factors that increase this, despite current laws and interventions. Motivating factors for continuing alcohol service and the different perspectives of both bar staff and venue owners and managers are investigated in this project.