Australian Institute of Criminology

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Police diversion for cannabis offences: Assessing outcomes and cost-effectiveness

Trends & issues in crime and criminal justice no. 532

Marian Shanahan, Caitlin Hughes and Tim McSweeney
ISSN 1836-2206
Canberra: Australian Institute of Criminology, June 2017

Abstract | Police diversion is widely utilised as an intervention for minor cannabis offending in Australia. This study compared the cost-effectiveness and outcomes of three kinds of diversions—cautions, expiation and warnings—with the traditional criminal justice system response of charging the offender. A sample of 998 people who had recently had contact with police for cannabis use or possession completed an online survey, with those who were diverted reporting reduced drug use and offending compared with those who were charged. The study supports previous findings that diversion for minor cannabis offences can save money and lead to better social consequences.