Australian Institute of Criminology

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Problem-oriented policing - a success story

Media Release

26 February 2001

In an attempt to address the problem of drug markets and hence reduce the impact of drug-related crime in Adelaide, the South Australia Police adopted a 'problem-oriented policing' approach to target low- to mid-level dealers through an operation called 'Operation Mantle'.

In a paper, titled Problem-oriented Policing: Operation Mantle - A Case Study, released today by the Australian Institute of Criminology it was found that Operation Mantle was successful in checking drug related crime. Director of the Australian Institute of Criminology, Dr Adam Graycar said that "Operation Mantle was successful in arresting the 'ever onwards and upwards' rates of drug-specific and drug-related crime. Across a range of drug-specific and drug-related offences reported or becoming known to police, rates tended to stabilise".

In Operation Mantle special investigation teams were created in six local services areas (LSAs) which covered the metropolitan Adelaide Statistical District. Its strategies included:

  • Law enforcement activities which targeted mid and low-level illicit drug dealers;
  • Use of problem-solving policing methods to take account of the principles of harm minimisation;
  • An integrated approach with government agencies, local government and the community to drug reduction;

Problem-oriented policing is a systematic, intelligence-driven approach which seeks to address the underlying problems which cause crime rather than focusing on individual incidents. It focuses on specific problems and identifies locations in which incidents of crime and disorder are concentrated. It has been found that the most effective police interventions are specific both to the type of crime or disorder and to place.