Australian Institute of Criminology

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About DUMA

Why DUMA?

Those who engage in both criminal activity and illicit drug use have a greater impact on the quality of life of ordinary Australians than other groups of drug users. DUMA is designed to provide an effective monitoring program that focuses specifically on offenders with a clear mandate to address the issue of drugs and crime. DUMA serves as an unparalleled source of information on illicit drug use and will significantly enhance our understanding of the link between drugs and crime.

What is DUMA?

Drug Use Monitoring in Australia (DUMA) is a project which seeks to measure drug use among those people who have been recently apprehended by police. Data from DUMA is used to examine issues such as the relationship between drugs and property and violent crime, monitor patterns of drug use across time, and help assess the need for drug treatment amongst the offender population.

The DUMA program is a partnership between the AIC, State Police Services and local researchers. DUMA is an invaluable aid to community planning, monitoring, and resource allocation and represents an important source of data for state and federal policymakers. Data collected through DUMA sites provides a research and evaluation tool for local analysts, policymakers and practitioners.

How does DUMA work?

Trained local staff conduct interviews with detainees who have been arrested in the previous 48 hours and are being held in custody.

Key elements include:

  • participation is voluntary and confidential
  • names and addresses are not kept
  • data are presented in aggregate form only
  • urine specimens are tested by an independent laboratory
  • interviewers cannot be police officers.

In most sites, more than 80% of the individuals approached agree to the interview and, of those, more than 70% agree to give urine specimens.

The primary purpose of DUMA's core data collection is to improve the comparibility of the data. The AIC ensures that core elements, including basic design, data collection methods, and a core set of questions, are comparable across sites.

Each site has a local steering committee, comprised of representatives from the AIC, independent researchers, local law enforcement and other major stakeholders.

Aims of DUMA

  • Collect illicit drug prevalence data on offenders at selected sites in Australia.
  • Improve the quality of data available on illicit drug use in the offender population.
  • Provide aggregated data in a timely fashion to State and Territory law enforcement agencies as well as federal national agencies such as the AFP, Customs, ABCI and NCA on the level of illicit drug use within the offender population.
  • Establish a mechanism whereby local and national law enforcement can evaluate policy initiatives.
  • Provide an early warning system for changes in patterns of illicit drug use.

The pilot phase

The DUMA pilot program was designed to see if the United States ADAM methodology could be successfully transported to the Australian environment. The pilot demonstrated that it was possible to achieve:

  • high response rates for both interview and urine specimens
  • successful partnership between police and researchers at local sites
  • timely provision of data
  • high quality data.

I-ADAM

The United States has been successfully conducting surveys of offenders (including urinalysis) since the mid-1980s through its Arrestee Drug Abuse Monitoring (ADAM) program. DUMA is affiliated with the International Arrestee Drug Abuse Monitoring Program (I-ADAM) that ensures comparable data are being collected in a range of countries, including the United States, England, Scotland and South Africa. Such data will enable comparisons of local illicit drugs markets at an international level for the first time.

What does DUMA provide?

Quality data for policy, evaluations and strategic planning are available from DUMA. This includes:

  • Urinalysis information on offender use of opiates, marijuana, cocaine, methadone, amphetamines and benzodiazepines
  • Self-reported data on patterns of illicit drug use
  • Self-reported data on current and prior arrest and prison experiences
  • Self-reported data on treatment utilisation
  • Other social issues including gambling and mental health.

What are the requirements of a DUMA site?

DUMA sites should be able to:

  • provide interviewers with access to all facilities necessary to obtain a sample of offenders
  • have interview rooms or settings where DUMA staff can complete the voluntary and confidential interviews
  • provide access to appropriate facilities so that urine samples may be obtained
  • have a pool of interviewers who are not law enforcement officials
  • have respect for, and the ability to maintain, confidential and anonymous information from offenders who consent to participate in the research study.