Australian Institute of Criminology

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DUMA program overview: 2013–14

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 watch houses) across Australia. The DUMA program collects data via interview and urinalysis. Following a budget review, in January 2013 the AIC Executive took a decision to temporarily suspend data collection to allow a review of the program’s relevance as a criminological and public health data collection system. This review meant that DUMA data collection was not undertaken during the first and second quarters of 2013. Data collection was subsequently recommenced in the third quarter of 2013 using a rationalised number of collection sites. The DUMA questionnaire was also revised (see Technical Appendix).

DUMA is the only Australian survey of alleged offenders held in police custody conducted on a routine basis, and there is no other known regular collection of data on drugs and offending among this population in Australia. Police detainees are a sentinel population whose patterns of drug use are likely to be of significant value in the formulation of policy and programs. The police detainee population is more likely to have had recent and close contact with the illicit drug market than non-detainees or incarcerated offenders. In addition, they are likely to be the first group within a particular area to begin using a new drug (Bennett 1998). The DUMA program also has the capacity to examine the extent and nature of drug use in a way that is not possible through drug arrest and seizure data.

By examining the police detainee population, the DUMA program aims to:

  • improve the quality of data available on illicit drug use in the offender population;
  • provide data to local law enforcement agencies and other stakeholders in a timely manner to enable risk assessment and evaluation of local policy initiatives;
  • provide an early warning system for changes in patterns of illicit drug use;
  • provide regular tracking data that allows law enforcement and other key stakeholders at the state, territory and Commonwealth level to examine trends; and
  • provide information on other issues of importance to law enforcement, such as new psychoactive drugs, pharmaceutical drug use, drink and drug driving, drug substitution, the use of the internet to obtain illicit drugs, and the readiness of detainees to change drug use habits.

All individuals detained by police at selected police stations and watch houses during periods of data collection are eligible to participate. Participation is voluntary and confidential. However, detainees may be excluded from participating in an interview if the detainee:

  • has been in police custody for more than 96 hours;
  • has been in a custodial setting within 48 hours prior to their arrest;
  • is highly intoxicated;
  • is potentially violent;
  • is mentally unfit; or
  • requires an interpreter.

The police custody manager can also deem a detainee ineligible to interview.

Urine samples are collected from detainees in select quarters if the detainee has been in custody for less than 48 hours.

There are two parts to the information collected through the DUMA program. The first part is a self-report questionnaire administered by a trained interviewer who is independent of the police. The DUMA survey comprises two components, a core questionnaire and a quarterly addendum. The core questionnaire collects charge information, demographic data, past criminal justice system contact, alcohol use and alcohol and drug attribution data. All information is collected via the detainee interview with the exception of charge information, which is obtained from police records.

Quarterly addenda are developed in consultation with both Commonwealth and state stakeholders and collect information on emerging issues of policy relevance. In 2013–14, the following addenda were administered:

Quarter 3, 2013—Drug substitution (Adelaide, Brisbane, East Perth, Kings Cross)

Quarter 4, 2013—Drug use and aggression (Adelaide, Bankstown, Brisbane, East Perth and Surry Hills)

Quarter 1, 2014—Internet access and frequency and nature of internet use (Adelaide, Brisbane, East Perth, Kings Cross and Surry Hills)

Quarter 2, 2014—Readiness to change drug use and help-seeking intentions (Adelaide, Bankstown, Brisbane and East Perth)

Quarter 3, 2014—Drink and drug driving; and Managing intoxicated offenders: Best practice in responding to individuals affected by drugs and alcohol data collection (NDLERF funded) (Adelaide, Brisbane, East Perth, and Kings Cross)

Quarter 4, 2014—Managing intoxicated offenders: Best practice in responding to individuals affected by drugs and alcohol data collection (NDLERF funded) (Adelaide, Bankstown, Brisbane, and East Perth)

Unique to the DUMA study is the collection of urine samples, which is the second part of the information collected. 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).

Urine samples are sent to an independent toxicology unit and tested for five classes of drug—amphetamines, benzodiazepine, cannabis, cocaine and opiatesand secondary screening tests are conducted for the opiate pharmacotherapy substances methadone and buprenorphine. Confirmatory analysis is conducted on samples testing positive for amphetamines and opiates (not including pharmacotherapies), resulting in opiate classifications of heroin or other opiates (including prescription opiates) and amphetamine classifications of methamphetamine, MDMA, or other amphetamines (including prescription amphetamines). Recent alcohol use is measured via self-report only, as it cannot be reliably tested using urinalysis. Detainee interview responses are included in the dataset regardless of whether a urine sample was provided.

In 2013 and 2014, DUMA operated at six sites across the country, representing a range of different community configurations. The Bankstown and East Perth sites have operated since the DUMA program commenced in1999, while other sites have been operating for varying periods: Brisbane and Adelaide since 2002, Kings Cross since 2009 and Surry Hills since 2013 (see Table 1).

Table 1 Date of establishment of DUMA sites
Site Commencement date and quarter Discontinued
Southport 1999 (quarter 1) 2012 (quarter 4)
Bankstown 1999 (quarter 3)
Parramatta 1999 (quarter 3) 2012 (quarter 4)
East Perth 1999 (quarter 1)
Brisbane 2002 (quarter 1)
Adelaide 2002 (quarter 2)
Elizabeth 2002 (quarter 2) 2007 (quarter 2)
Darwin 2006 (quarter 1) 2012 (quarter 4)
Footscray 2006 (quarter 1) 2012 (quarter 4)
Alice Springs 2007 (quarter 3) 2008 (quarter 2)
Kings Cross 2009 (quarter 1)
Pilot Sites
South Hedland 2013 (quarter 3) 2013 (quarter 4)a
Surry Hills 2013 (quarter 4)

a: This was a one-off data collection site

Note: A full list of fieldwork dates for 2013 and 2014 is provided in the Technical Appendix

Methodological notes

When interpreting the results presented in this report, the following points should be considered.

  • Self-reported and urinalysis results are presented separately for each of the six DUMA sites surveyed in 2013–14: Adelaide, Bankstown, Brisbane, East Perth, Kings Cross and Surry Hills. Data collection at the Bankstown and Kings Cross sites alternated on a quarterly basis, and data were only collected at Surry Hills in two quarters (see Technical Appendix).
  • In the 2013–14 data collection period, urine samples were collected in the third and fourth quarter of 2013 and the first and third quarter of 2014 at the Adelaide, Brisbane and East Perth sites. In New South Wales, urine samples were collected at Kings Cross in the third quarter of 2013 and the first and third quarter of 2014; at Surry Hills in the fourth quarter of 2013 and the first quarter of 2014; and at Bankstown in the fourth quarter of 2013 (see Technical Appendix).
  • Males are over-represented in the detainee samples. However, the proportions are consistent with the population from which the samples were derived, with police processing fewer female than male detainees. Due to the low number of female detainees, caution should be exercised when interpreting the results or making gender-based comparisons. Sections relating to 17 year old Brisbane detainees and adult detainees at Bankstown, Kings Cross and Surry Hills do not report findings by gender due to the small number of detainees in those groups.
  • Sample sizes vary across the analysis as there were instances where detainees were unable or unwilling to respond to survey items. In order to preserve the largest sample size possible, detainees were only excluded from the analysis of those variables for which their data were missing.
  • Due to rounding, the sum of the individual site results may be slightly different to the results reported in the national summary section.
  • Standard drink calculations are based on conversion figures consistent with those used in the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) National Drug Strategy Household Survey (NDSHS).
  • Throughout the 16 years of DUMA’s operation, a number of changes have been made to both the methodology and the annual reporting. These changes have been made to improve the reliability and accuracy of the data and ensure it remains relevant. This report and the trend data presented in it represent the current methodology and item format adopted by the DUMA program. Direct comparisons with earlier annual reports should be undertaken with consideration for the relevant methodological changes.
  • Some methodological changes that should be considered when interpreting the results listed in this report include:
    • From the third quarter of 2013 to the first quarter of 2014, detainees who reported having ever spent time in prison on a sentence were asked whether they were currently on parole, probation or a community service order. From the second quarter of 2014, all detainees were asked these questions.
    • The calculation of incarceration in the past 12 months changed from the 2011–12 to the 2013–14 collection period. In 2011–12 detainees who reported having ever spent time in prison on a sentence were asked whether they had served time in prison on a sentence in the past 12 months, while in 2013–14 detainees who reported having ever spent time in prison on a sentence were asked how long it had been since they were released.
    • Figures representing urinalysis results by year for individual drugs (cannabis, amphetamines, heroin, cocaine and benzodiazepines) in the national summary are based on data from five long-term sites (Adelaide, Bankstown, Brisbane, East Perth and Kings Cross) for the period 2002 to 2014, as the majority of active sites have operated since 2002. In the 2011–12 monitoring report, these figures were based on data from the four original sites (Southport, East Perth, Bankstown and Parramatta) and reported from 1999 to 2012.
    • The MSO of DUI (driving under the influence of alcohol and/or illicit drugs) includes detainees who have been charged with drink or drug driving offences. In previous monitoring reports this category was labelled ‘drink driving’.