Monograph no. 64

Policing and pathways to diversion and care among vulnerable young people who use alcohol and other drugs

This report explores the facilitators and barriers to care for vulnerable young people who use alcohol and other drugs and who have police contact.

Monograph no. 62

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 choo

Monograph no. 61

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.

Monograph no. 59

Social supply of cannabis in Australia

Australian retail markets for most illicit drugs, including cannabis, are based significantly upon friendships and occur in closed settings. This has been described as ‘lounge room’, as opposed to ‘street’, dealing (Nicholas 2008). Similar observations have been made in other countries, and in the UK the term ‘social supply’ was coined to describe this aspect of the drug market where a supplier who is not considered to be a ‘drug dealer proper’ brokers, facilitates or sells drugs, for little or no financial gain, to friends and acquaintances (Hough et al. 2003). In this qualitative and quantitative study, a convenience sample of 200 cannabis users aged between 18 and 30 years were interviewed in Perth (n=80), Melbourne (n=80) and Armidale (NSW; n=40). They were recruited online and through the mainstream street press, flyers, and snowballing. Participants mostly described a closed market characterised by high levels of trust between consumers and suppliers already known to each other at the level of adjacent pairs or small group networks, typically selling in private. Their qualitative accounts of what happened last time they scored or obtained cannabis provided rich descriptions of the process of obtaining cannabis for these young users. Although participants often described their main cannabis supplier as ‘a friend’, roughly three-fifths reported this relationship was a friendship first and two-fifths reported it was a supply relationship first. Overall, 94 percent of the sample had ever supplied cannabis and 78 percent had done so in the past six months. Although most people who engaged in supply understood that their activities would be regarded as such in law, most did not consider themselves to be a dealer. The findings have implications for the policing of social supply drug markets, the public education of participants in the social supply market and how social supply offences are dealt with in law.

Monograph no. 58

Understanding and describing Australian illicit drug markets

This study has provided a detailed description of the drug purchase and drug use patterns of a cohort of people who inject drugs, and an understanding of changes that occurred between 2009 and 2014. During this period, heroin, methamphetamine, benzodiazepines and other opioids were typically purchased between 10am and 2pm with very little search time, were used almost immediately following their acquisition, and sharing a purchase or pooling money with a partner or friend was common, as were larger (>$100) purchases. Reported drug purchases and drug use both occurred more frequently in private homes than public settings, and this became increasingly so over time. Although the primary drug of the cohort remained heroin, two trends in drug use were observed: a transition from heroin to cannabis use, consistent with some of the cohort ‘maturing out’; and among existing methamphetamine users, a transition from powder to crystal methamphetamine use and increased methamphetamine consumption, corresponding with increased availability of the crystal form and a dramatic decrease in purity-adjusted price.

Monograph no. 57

Interventions for reducing alcohol supply, alcohol demand and alcohol-related harm

This project synthesises existing evidence and knowledge to improve our understanding of good practice in minimising the range of harms associated with alcohol misuse, especially supply and demand reduction strategies. It builds on the literature by using a Delphi study to answer many of the existing questions for which no research literature yet exists. All interventions that aim to reduce the supply of alcohol discussed in this report have received substantial evidence for their effectiveness. Specifically, reducing alcohol outlet opening hours, increasing minimum legal purchase age, reducing alcohol outlet density and controlling alcohol sales times have each undergone a vast number of evaluations and have been found to be effective in reducing the supply of alcohol and reducing the harms associated with its consumption.

Monograph no. 56

Off-site outlets and alcohol-related harm

The aim of the study was to investigate the relationship between rates of reported assault, alcohol sales and numbers of outlets (differentiated by outlet type) in both Queensland and Western Australia.

Counts of assault offences formed the dependent variable in all analyses. In Queensland, the key explanatory variables of interest were counts of outlets by major outlet types and level of total pure alcohol sales. For Western Australia, key explanatory variables included on and offsite outlet counts and alcohol sales. All models included a full accompaniment of potential demographic and socioeconomic confounders. Multivariate negative binomial regression models were created at local government area level based on location, type and time of assault, and victim age and gender.

Monograph no. 55

Development of a drink driving program for regional and remote Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities

The majority of Indigenous fatal road injuries are sustained by road users in regional and remote areas, whereby a strong association between alcohol and serious and fatal non-metropolitan road crashes has been established. Moreover, Indigenous Australians are overrepresented in drink driving arrests generally and in drink driving recidivism rates. While national and state transport agencies recommend better countermeasures to reduce risky driving practices among Indigenous road users, there is sparse evidence to inform new treatment measures. The project is comprised of three independent but linked stages of quantitative and qualitative research. Analysis of drink driving convictions (2006-2010) in Queensland, identified drink driving convictions were more predominant in rural and remote areas. Qualitative interviews were conducted with participants residing in Cairns and Cape York region in Queensland and Northern New South Wales. Unique risk factors associated with drink driving in the Indigenous context were identified, including kinship pressure and alcohol restrictions. Based on the findings from the two phases, a four session program for regional and remote Indigenous communities was developed. The program, one of first of its kind in Australia, was trialled in three communities. Focus groups and interviews were conducted at the completion of the program to determine short-term perceptions of the content and delivery suitability as well as program recommendations. The program has the ability to be an effective treatment option as part of a community-based sentencing option and assist in reducing drink driving in Indigenous Australian regional and remote communities. Program recommendations and other policy considerations to reduce drink driving in Indigenous communities are discussed.

Monograph no. 54

An empirical basis for the ratio of crowd controllers to patrons

Managing the safety of patrons and others in event and venue settings is of significant concern in Australia. A key strategy for dealing with this issue is the use of crowd controllers.
Determining sufficient crowd controller numbers to reduce the potential for harm at events and venues is, however, problematic given the many variables that are involved.
This study identifies key risk factors impacting the crowd controller to patron ratio decision and develops decision aids (Crowd Controller Assessment Tools) for use by those faced with advising on, or making decisions about, crowd management.

Monograph no. 53

Supply-side reduction policy and drug-related harm

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).