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$1.8 million for drug testing study

Media Release

02 June 2001

Media release from Senator, the Hon Chris Ellison, Minister for Justice and Customs

Following the successful pilot of the Drug Use Monitoring in Australia (DUMA) project Senator Chris Ellison, Minister for Justice and Customs, today announced further funding of $1.8 million to continue the programme for a further two years.

Senator Ellison said DUMA was a unique research project that provided comprehensive data about the supply and demand for illicit drugs at a local level, as well as comparable data from across Australia.

"This additional funding for the DUMA programme is a further step in the Howard Government's systematic attack on drugs and the criminal activities that flow from the illicit drug trade," Senator Ellison said.

"DUMA testing for the first time provides the criminal justice system with quality data on the drugs-crime link and demonstrates the Government's commitment to evidence based policy making."

Senator Ellison said the DUMA pilot programme has shown that the proportion of people testing positive to different illicit drugs varied across the country, indicating that drug markets are highly localised.

"The DUMA study acts as an early warning system for changes in patterns of illicit drug use in the community," Senator Ellison said.

DUMA testing occurs within 48 hours of an offender's arrest at police stations in East Perth in WA, Bankstown and Parramatta in NSW and Southport in Qld.

The DUMA programme tests recent use of illicit drugs with a urinalysis ensuring the most accurate data on recent drug use patterns is obtained. It provides unique data on patterns of drug use, local drug markets, criminal activity and treatment.

Senator Ellison said a key goal of policing was to reduce crime and that DUMA would allow local police to monitor the impact of illicit drugs on their streets with high quality data.

"Not only does this type of testing improve the quality of information available on illicit drug use in the prison population, but it also will enable police, criminal justice practitioners and governments to better target programmes and police resources to combat the link between drug and crime."

In its pilot phase DUMA has been highly successful with 84 percent of detainees voluntarily agreeing to complete an interview and approximately 74 percent of these people agree to provide a urine specimen.

DUMA information is also affiliated with a number of similar international drug use monitoring programmes in the United States, England, South Africa, Chile, Scotland and Malaysia which allows Australia to benchmark information against similar countries overseas.

Some key findings from 2000 Annual DUMA report which will be released by the Australian Institute of Criminology next week include:

Of those offenders detained by police in 2000:

  • 82 percent of adult males arrested for a property offence tested positive to an illicit drug.
  • 65 percent of adult males arrested for a violent offence tested positive to an illicit drug.
  • 56 percent tested positive to cannabis.
  • 28 percent tested positive to opiates.
  • 22 percent tested positive to amphetamines.
  • Half report that they had been arrested on a prior occasion in the past 12 months.
  • Those who had been arrested on a prior occasion and who had served time in prison were more likely to test positive to drug use.
  • 37 percent said they had sold illegal drugs for money.
  • Between the last quarter of 1999 to the first quarter of 2000 DUMA detected a sudden increase of 23 percent in the percent testing positive to amphetamines amongst police detainees in the East Perth site.
  • Comparisons between the Australian and US sites in 1999 indicate that the percentage of detainees testing positive for opiates is higher in Australia but the percentage testing positive to cocaine is higher in the United States sites.

Currently available from the AIC's website are recent trends and issues papers including Trends and Issues Papers no. 185 Patterns of Drug Use Amongst Police Detainees: 1999-2000 and no. 191 Drug Use Amongst Police Detainees: Some Comparative Data.