Monograph no. 59
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
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
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
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
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
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.