Australian Institute of Criminology

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Drug offences

  • ISBN 0 642 24219 4
  • Canberra: Australian Institute of Criminology, 2001

The Australian Bureau of Criminal Intelligence has reported drug arrest and seizure statistics since 1992. This section provides an overview of arrest patterns for offenders between 1995-96 and 1998-99.

Information is provided on arrests for the following types of drugs:

  • cannabis;
  • heroin;
  • amphetamines;
  • cocaine; and
  • other drugs (not defined elsewhere).

Cannabis arrests include expiation notices, drug infringement notices and simple cannabis offence notices.

Offenders involved in drug arrests are divided into the following two categories:

  • consumers: persons charged with user-type offences (e.g. possessing or administering drugs for own personal use); and
  • providers: persons charged with supply-type offences (e.g. importation, trafficking, selling, cultivation and manufacture).

In the case of a person being charged with consumer and provider offences, the provider charge takes precedence and the person is counted only as a provider of that drug.

Figure 66 : Number of consumers and providers arrested as percentage of all drug arrests specific to each type of drug, 1995-96 and 1998-99



Figure 66

* 'Other' includes hallucinogens, steroids and other drugs (not defined elsewhere).
  • The majority of people arrested for drug offences are consumers rather than providers, irrespective of drug type.
  • In 1998-99, 81% of persons arrested for cannabis offences were consumers, compared to 58% of arrests for cocaine offences.
  • There has been relatively little change in the pattern of arrests between 1995-96 and 1998-99.

Figure 67 : Drug consumers, number of arrests as a percentage of total drug arrests, by type of drug,1995-96 and 1998-99



Figure 67

* 'Other' includes hallucinogens, steroids and other drugs (not defined elsewhere).
  • Arrests for cannabis, heroin and amphetamines accounted for 94% of all consumer arrests in 1998-99.
  • Consumers were most likely to be arrested for a cannabis offence in both 1995-96 and 1998-99. However, there has been some change in the past three years, with a decrease in the percentage of cannabis users from 79.1% to 71.3%.
  • Between 1995-96 and 1998-99, there was an increase in the percentage of consumers arrested for heroin and amphetamine offences. The percentage of consumers arrested for heroin offences more than doubled over the three-year period.

Figure 68 : Drug providers, number of arrests as a percentage of total drug arrests, by type of drug, 1995-96 and 1998-99



Figure 68

* 'Other' includes hallucinogens, steroids and other drugs (not further defined).
  • As with consumers, most providers are arrested for importing, producing, trafficking or selling cannabis.
  • In 1998-99, cannabis accounted for 63% of all provider arrests. Heroin and amphetamines accounted for 21% and 9% of provider arrests, respectively.
  • Over the past three years there has been a substantial decline in the percentage of provider arrests related to cannabis offences. In 1995-96, 82% of arrests against providers were for cannabis offences compared to 63% in 1998-99.
  • The percentage of total provider arrests accounted for by heroin offences almost tripled between 1995-96 and 1998-99.

Figure 69 : Drug consumers, number of arrests as a percentage of total drug arrests, by gender and type of drug, 1998-99



Figure 69

* 'Other' includes hallucinogens, steroids and other drugs (not defined elsewhere).

Figure 70 : Drug providers, number of arrests as a percentage of total drug arrests, by gender and type of drug, 1998-99



Figure 70

* 'Other' includes hallucinogens, steroids and other drugs (not defined elsewhere).
  • Irrespective of drug type, males accounted for four in five arrests of both consumer and provider offences.

Source: Reference 19.