Publications

All NDLERF publications, listed by most recent release date.

December 2006

Impact of the heroin shortage: Additional research
Research Summary 19

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

Developing and implementing a performance measurement framework for drug law enforcement in Australia
Monograph 18

This report presents a detailed description of a model process for developing a viable performance measurement framework for drug law enforcement in Australia. It was undertaken by the Australian Institute of Criminology on behalf of the National Drug Law Enforcement Research Fund in order to help provide a better accounting for the benefits from the estimated annual $1.4 billion expenditure on drug law enforcement in Australia. In keeping with their overseas counterparts, Australian drug law enforcement agencies have used seizure and arrest data to measure the effectiveness of their work performance for many years. While such measures are simple, visible and well-understood measures of law enforcement effort, they are in many cases ambiguous measures of law enforcement performance. These measures essentially demonstrate the extent to which law enforcement agencies 'engage' in certain types of activities rather than demonstrating the broader 'impacts' of law enforcement work. The performance measurement framework that was developed by this project provides a model framework and development process through which to redress the shortcomings of current drug law enforcement performance measurement practices by including a suite of traditional and more innovative performance measures. This framework has the potential to form the basis of a series of organisationally and jurisdictionally specific performance measurement models, suitably modified to reflect local requirements and available information.

Developing and implementing a performance measurement framework for drug law enforcement in Australia
Research Summary 18

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

Impact of the heroin shortage: Additional research
Monograph 19

In early 2001, Australia experienced a sudden and dramatic decrease in heroin availability, concomitant with increases in price and decreases in purity. This phenomenon, known as the 'heroin shortage', was assessed in a comprehensive body of research examining the causes, course and consequence of the shortage). As a result of those findings a number of additional questions were raised, and some findings required further and more detailed analysis, which are addressed in the current report. The aims of the research presented in this report were to: i) assess what impact, if any, the heroin shortage had on initiation to heroin use; ii) examine whether the associated increase in cocaine use led to a) an increase in violent crime and b) an increase in sex work; iii) provide a more detailed and analytical analysis of fatal and non-fatal drug overdose; and iv) provide a closer examination of the impact of law enforcement operations on harm reduction in the context of the heroin shortage.

October 2006

An evaluation of the Standardised Field Sobriety Tests for the detection of impairment associated with cannabis with and without alcohol
Monograph 17

Reports indicate that in Victoria, New South Wales and Western Australia, 23.5% of drivers in fatal accidents had consumed drugs other than alcohol, and that 29.1% of drivers had a Blood alcohol concentration (BAC) level of 0.05% or higher. Alcohol has been detected in combination with drugs in almost 10% of cases. Cannabis was most prevalent among drugs other than alcohol detected in specimens (13.5%). The combination of drugs as an influence on road traffic accidents is becoming a growing concern and research has been conducted to identify how these drugs impair performance. In Victoria, Standardised Field Sobriety Tests (SFSTs) have been introduced as means of testing for impairment in drivers who have consumed drugs other than alcohol. The use of SFSTs, although designed for the detection of alcohol-intoxicated drivers (up to 0.08%), has been implemented in programs for the detection of drugs other than alcohol. The present study had several aims: to examine the effects of cannabis and cannabis together with alcohol on driving performance; to examine the effects of cannabis and alcohol on SFSTs performance; to examine the efficiency of SFSTs to predict driving performance associated with the administration of cannabis and alcohol; to examine any differences between the effects of cannabis and alcohol on performance in regular cannabis users and non-regular cannabis users; and to examine any differences between SFSTs ratings by researchers and SFSTs ratings by police officers in order to identify the inter-rater reliability of SFSTs.

An evaluation of the Standardised Field Sobriety Tests for the detection of impairment associated with cannabis with and without alcohol
Research Summary 17

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

August 2006

The policing implications of cannabis, amphetamine & other illicit drug use in Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander communities
Monograph 15

Concerned about the likely impacts of heavy cannabis use in rural and remote communities and recognising the need to equip police with advice on ways to work more effectively with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, the National Drug Law Enforcement Fund commissioned a 12-month national study. NDLERF tasked the Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies, in conjunction with the Australian Institute of Criminology, to examine issues associated with the policing of cannabis, amphetamine and other illicit drug use in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities in rural and remote areas. This report summarises the findings from that study. The overall aims of the project were to: i) enhance the law enforcement sector's understanding of the extent and nature of illicit drug use by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people; ii) identify good policing practice to help prevent and to minimise the harms resulting from illicit drug use; and iii) produce guidelines on the implementation of good practice.

The policing implications of cannabis, amphetamine & other illicit drug use in Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander communities
Research Summary 15

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

Policing, volatile substance misuse, and Indigenous Australians
Monograph 16

Volatile substance misuse is the inhalation of substances containing hydrocarbons to induce a state of intoxication, and there a number of acute and chronic health and social problems with which it can be associated. Police have an important role to play in the minimisation of both volatile substance misuse and related harm. This research project, commissioned by the National Drug Law Enforcement Research Fund, was to enhance the understanding of the law enforcement sector concerning the extent and nature of petrol sniffing and other inhalant misuse by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples predominantly in rural and remote, but also urban communities. A qualitative case study approach was taken to the project and 160 interviews were conducted with a total of 195 people including: police officers; Indigenous police liaison officers or community constables; representatives of Indigenous community-controlled organisations; Indigenous community members; representatives of non-Indigenous non-government organisations; and representatives of government agencies.

Policing, volatile substance misuse, and Indigenous Australians
Research Summary 16

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

December 2005

Psycho-stimulant use, health and criminal activity among injecting heroin users
Monograph 10

This research sought to inform three questions of relevance to illicit drug policy: what effect does the perceived price, purity and availability of heroin have on (a) heroin use and (b) heroin expenditure; what effect does the perceived risk of scoring, perceived hassle associated with scoring and amount of contact with police have on (a) heroin use and (b) heroin expenditure; and what differences are there in terms of adverse health and behavioural outcomes between IDUs who use heroin only and IDUs who use a combination of heroin and psycho-stimulant drugs, such as cocaine and methamphetamine? To address these questions a sample of 296 Sydney IDUs were surveyed. For this sample of IDUs, most of the law enforcement-related variables exerted no significant effect on heroin use and expenditure. Neither the cost of heroin, nor its purity, nor the perceived risk and hassle associated with purchasing heroin were related to either drug expenditure or use. There was a significant relationship between the amount of contact with police and heroin expenditure but it was in the opposite direction to that which would be expected if police contact directly reduces heroin expenditure. IDUs who had more contact with police spent more on heroin each week than IDUs who had relatively infrequent contact with police. The only law enforcement-related variable that appeared to be related to heroin use and expenditure in the manner expected was time to score. IDUs who took longer to score spent significantly less on the drug, and used significantly less of it.

Psycho-stimulant use, health and criminal activity among injecting heroin users
Research Summary 10

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

An evaluation of the impact of changes to cannabis law in WA - Summary of Year 1 findings
Monograph 12

This is a summary report on the first phase of four of seven sub-studies of a larger project funded to evaluate the impact of changes to cannabis law in Western Australia on cannabis use, the drug market, law enforcement, knowledge and attitudes, and cannabis-related harms. The evaluation investigates: police implementation of the changes; drug market effects; impact on regular cannabis users, population prevalence, knowledge and attitudes regarding cannabis and the law; effect on school children; effect on apprehended cannabis users; and population impact on health problems associated with cannabis use.

An evaluation of the impact of changes to cannabis law in WA - Summary of Year 1 findings
Research Summary 12

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

November 2005

Characteristics and dynamics of cocaine supply and demand in Sydney and Melbourne
Monograph 14

This study set out to examine the characteristics and dynamics of cocaine supply and demand in the two largest Australian cities, Sydney and Melbourne. The main aim of the study was to describe the breadth (in terms of types of users and dealers) and the depth of the market (length of supply chains, overlap with other drug supply). The analysis was based on 165 personal interviews with cocaine users in both cities conducted between October 2004 and January 2005. The data was supplemented with a further 133 questionnaires completed by cocaine users through an Internet-based survey over the same period. Twenty 'for-profit' cocaine dealers were identified within the sample and they provided detailed histories of drug dealing and recent cocaine transactions. From the findings, the report suggests that the large-scale cocaine supply required to meet Australian demand is a trans-national enterprise and so operations at the border and beyond remain the most effective strategy to maintain the current high price and low availability that characterises Australian cocaine supply.

Characteristics and dynamics of cocaine supply and demand in Sydney and Melbourne
Research Summary 14

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

October 2005

The Sydney methamphetamine market: Patterns of supply, use, personal harms and social consequences
Monograph 13

The methamphetamine market in Australia has undergone radical changes since the late 1990s with the emergence of new more pure forms of base and ice. The current research was undertaken to fulfil a need to understand the impact of base and ice on the methamphetamine market, and the health and social consequences associated with these more pure forms of methamphetamine. The specific objectives of the research were to: i) clarify the relationship between the physical forms of methamphetamine and the terminology used to describe these different forms of the drug; ii) estimate the demand for the potent forms of base and ice methamphetamine; iii) document the nature of methamphetamine supply; iv) describe the characteristics of methamphetamine users, methamphetamine use patterns and the social and health problems associated with methamphetamine use; v) examine the relationship between methamphetamine use and criminal activity; vi) describe and estimate the prevalence of psychiatric sequelae associated with methamphetamine (i.e. psychosis and aggressive or violent behaviour); vii) examine the occupational health and safety implications of the above psychiatric sequelae for frontline workers (i.e. police, ambulance officers and emergency department staff); and to viii) determine the utility of the various methodologies employed in the project for investigating the methamphetamine market. The research used a range of different methods to understand the nature of the methamphetamine market in Sydney, including interviews with users, dealers, frontline workers, hospital records and forensic data.

The Sydney methamphetamine market: Patterns of supply, use, personal harms and social consequences
Research Summary 13

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

May 2005

The governance of illicit synthetic drugs
Research Summary 9

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

The governance of illicit synthetic drugs
Monograph 9

Throughout the lifecycle of an illicit synthetic drug there are a number of individuals or institutions in a position to reduce supply. This project aims to identify concrete examples of law enforcement agencies harnessing external institutions (public, private and non-profit) in furtherance of amphetamine and other illicit synthetic drug control, and to analyse the strengths and weaknesses of each. The research has focused on strategies adopted by law enforcement agencies overseas, and involved fieldwork in Asia, Europe and the United States. The study discusses international and Australian chemical diversion control initiatives and the challenges of diversion control and supply reduction partnerships, and examines various models adopted by the United Kingdom, the Netherlands and the United States to prevent the diversion of necessary chemicals and equipment into the manufacture of illicit synthetic drugs. The study concludes that law enforcement can harness the resources of other organisations in the public and private sectors through a range of mechanisms both mandatory and voluntary, and summarises a number of best practice principles for supply reduction partnerships which have been distilled from the case studies.

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