Australian Institute of Criminology

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Report released into drug use by detainees

Media Release

11 September 2008

Alcohol dependency among police detainees has increased while dependency on illicit drugs has decreased, according to the latest report from the Australian Institute of Criminology (AIC).

The findings are from the annual Drug Use Monitoring in Australia: 2007 Annual Report which involves the quarterly collection of information on drug use and crime from police detainees in nine sites across Australia.

The Minister for Home Affairs, Bob Debus, said the percentage of detainees dependent on alcohol had increased since monitoring began.

"Three-quarters of male detainees and two-thirds of female detainees reported heavy alcohol use in the past year. Half the male detainees and one-third of the female detainees had drunk heavily in the 48 hours prior to being arrested."

The data also shows considerable overlap between heavy use of alcohol and illicit drug use. Of the adult detainees who reported heavy drinking in the previous 30 days and the previous 48 hours, 65 percent tested positive to at least one other drug.

Overall trends in detected illicit drugs such as methylamphetamine are shown to be stable, with a gradual decrease in positive tests for cannabis. Most DUMA sites since 2005 have shown a decline in the number of detainees testing positive to heroin.

Mr Debus said the report was a valuable monitoring of trends which added to policy development.

"The report is further evidence that young adults are drinking at risky levels and for some, they're ending up on the wrong side of the law. The National Strategy on Binge Drinking is just one of the measures the Government is using to help reduce this community-wide problem."

Information for the DUMA program is collected through a voluntary questionnaire and a urine sample.

For more information or to view the report visit www.aic.gov.au


Media Contact AIC: Lani Gerrish 0403 746 009
Minister Debus: Samantha Wills 0448 721 372