Australian Institute of Criminology

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Police drug diversion initiatives successfully discouraging reoffending

Media Release

15 October 2008

A study of national police initiatives to discourage drug offenders from reoffending shows they have achieved positive outcomes in terms of recidivism according to the latest report released today by the Australian Institute of Criminology (AIC).

Police drug diversion: a study of criminal offending outcomes is an analysis of the results achieved by police under the Illicit Drug Diversion Initiative (IDDI) established in 1999 by the Council of Australian Governments.

Dr Judy Putt, General Manager of Research at the AIC, says that under the IDDI police divert primarily first-time or minor non-violent drug offenders away from the criminal justice system in an effort to reduce recidivism and engage them in drug education, assessment and treatment.

"Across all jurisdictions, the majority of people who were referred to a program or cautioned did not reoffend in the 12 to 18-month period after their diversion and those who did reoffend only did so once during that time," Dr Putt said.

"Perhaps the best indication of changes in criminal behaviour after diversion comes from comparing the pre and post-offending records of each individual. Among those with a history of prior offences, the majority were apprehended for either no or fewer post-diversion offences than before.

"Similarly, of those individuals who had not offended in the 18 months prior to diversion, the majority (ranging from 70 to 86 percent) had no further contact with the criminal justice system for an equal period after diversion. These rates are comparable to those estimated for first-time offenders in other studies."

The Australian Government Department of Health and Ageing engaged the AIC in 2006 to examine the criminal justice outcomes of IDDI programs across Australia.

The report details AIC analysis of the criminal histories and recidivism of a sample of offenders cautioned or diverted by police to IDDI programs in each Australian state and territory.

AIC media contact: Scott Kelleher, Tel: 02.6260 9244; m: 0418 159525.