Australian Institute of Criminology

Skip to content

DUMA program overview: 2011–12

What is DUMA?

Established in 1999, the DUMA program is a quarterly collection of criminal justice and drug use information from police detainees at multiple sites (police stations or watchhouses) across Australia. It is the only nationwide survey of alleged offenders held in police custody that is conducted on a routine basis. In 2011 and 2012, DUMA operated at nine sites across the country, including at least one site in each mainland capital city.

There are two parts to the information collected through the DUMA program. The first component is a self-report questionnaire administered by a trained interviewer, who is independent of police. The questionnaire collects demographic data, detainee drug use history, drug market participation, treatment history and prior contact with the criminal justice system. The second component is a urine sample. If provided, the urine sample is sent to a toxicology unit and tested for seven different classes of drug. Participation in the survey and the provision of a urine sample is voluntary and participants’ responses to the survey will be included in the analysis regardless of whether a urine sample is provided. No identifying data are collected. For a detailed discussion of the DUMA project methodology (see Makkai 1999).

Monitoring the prevalence and patterns of drug use among police detainees offers a number of advantages over alternative data collection methods. Unlike drug arrests and seizure data from police administrative systems, the DUMA program has the capacity to examine the extent and nature of drug use that may not otherwise come to the attention of law enforcement agencies. Drug arrest and seizure data are likely to reflect policing priorities and operational practices that could skew our understanding of the local drug markets. Further, police detainees are a key sentinel population whose patterns of drug use are likely to be of significant value in the formulation of policy and programs. Unlike general household and incarcerated offender surveys, DUMA’s focus on police detainees ensures a targeted approach to populations that are likely to have had the most recent and close contact with local drug markets. Research suggests that police detainees are likely to be the first group within a particular area to begin using a new drug and are more likely to partake in its use than non-detainees (Bennett 1998). There is no other known source of data on drugs and offending among this population in Australia.

Unique to the DUMA study is the collection of urine samples. Through the collection and analysis of urine, DUMA allows self-reported information on recent drug use to be cross-validated and verified through an independent measure of drug consumption. Urinalysis has been identified as a major strength of DUMA, as it objectively measures the prevalence of drug use by detainees within a specified period and allows for valid comparisons across time. It provides an invaluable countermeasure to the problems of underreporting identified in other studies (see Makkai 1999).

DUMA provides an evidence base that influences drug and crime policy and practices. It achieves this through:

  • monitoring a particular group that comes into contact with the criminal justice system and is involved in crime and drug markets;
  • providing regular tracking data that allows law enforcement and other key stakeholders at the state, territory and federal level to examine trends;
  • providing information on comorbidity (eg drug dependency and mental health) to assist in resource allocation and service provision in the health sector;
  • validating self-reported recent drug use with urine testing;
  • identifying key differences in illicit drug use across Australia over time; and
  • providing information on other issues of importance to law enforcement, such as new psychoactive drugs, pharmaceutical drug use, drug driving and the use of weapons in crime.

The nine DUMA sites active at the beginning of 2011 represent a range of different community configurations, including major state capital cities, metropolitan city areas, major tourist destinations and regional centres (see Table 1).

Table 1 Date of establishment of DUMA sites
Site Commencement date and quarter Discontinued
Southport 1999 (quarter 1)
Bankstown 1999 (quarter 3)
Parramatta 1999 (quarter 3)
East Perth 1999 (quarter 1)
Brisbane 2002 (quarter 1)
Adelaide 2002 (quarter 2)
Elizabeth 2002 (quarter 2) 2007 (quarter 2)
Darwin 2006 (quarter 1)
Footscray 2006 (quarter 1)
Alice Springs 2007 (quarter 3) 2008 (quarter 2)
Kings Cross 2009 (quarter 1)

Note: A full list of fieldwork dates for 2011 and 2012 is provided in Appendix A

Addenda

The DUMA survey instrument comprises two core components—a core questionnaire and a quarterly addendum. Addenda are developed in consultation with both Commonwealth and state stakeholders and collect information on emerging issues of policy relevance. As of 2013, the AIC has made available the DUMA addenda space for purchase by other organisations and researchers. If you wish to purchase space in the DUMA addenda, please contact the AIC at duma@aic.gov.au.

In 2011–12, the following addenda were developed and implemented:

Quarter 1, 2011—No addendum

Quarter 2, 2011—Housing and employment (Adelaide, Bankstown, Brisbane, Darwin, East Perth, Footscray, Parramatta and Southport)

Quarter 3, 2011—Prescription drugs (Adelaide, Bankstown, Brisbane, Darwin, East Perth, Footscray, Kings Cross and Southport)

Quarter 4, 2011—No addendum

Quarter 1, 2012—Synthetic cannabis (Adelaide, Bankstown, Brisbane, Darwin, East Perth, Footscray, Kings Cross and Southport)

Quarter 2, 2012—Stolen goods and motives (Adelaide, Bankstown, Brisbane, Darwin, East Perth, Footscray, Parramatta and Southport)

Quarter 3, 2012—Drink driving (Adelaide, Bankstown, Brisbane, Darwin, East Perth, Footscray, Kings Cross and Southport)

Quarter 4, 2012—Domestic violence (Adelaide, Bankstown, Brisbane, Darwin, East Perth, Footscray, Parramatta and Southport)