Australian Institute of Criminology

Skip to content

Measuring the effectiveness of drug law enforcement

Media Release

04 February 2011

The Australian Institute of Criminology was commissioned in 2004 by the National Drug Law Enforcement Research Fund to develop a drug law enforcement (DLE) performance measurement framework.

The project’s second stage, undertaken between 2006 and 2009, included developing and trialling an implementation plan to collect and analyse data from four law enforcement agencies - South Australia Police, Tasmania Police, Victoria Police and Customs.

This AIC Trends and Issues paper summarises the key findings from the second stage of the project - testing the framework’s feasibility.

“The impact of the policing on illicit drug markets is very difficult to measure – the numbers of seizures and arrests do not provide the full picture of the effectiveness of DLE,” said AIC researcher Dr Katie Willis.

“Key measures set out in the new framework include: the number of seizures, the number of drug-related arrests, deaths and hospital stays, purity and availability of a drug, and the public perception of the drug problem.

“This framework would enhance measurement and understanding of DLE outcomes such as reducing drug crime and drug-related crime; reducing organised crime; improving public health; and improving public amenity,” Dr Willis said.

Findings of this trial raised some key issues for future implementation of the framework, such as determining responsibility for DLE performance measurement within an agency; developing steps to put the framework in place; determining a realistic timeframe; and giving it adequate resources.

The most critical issues to ensure the success and acceptance of implementing such a framework would be to ensure a coordinated response from each agency, taking into consideration jurisdictional differences.