Australian Institute of Criminology

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Brisbane

Sample

Throughout 2009–10, 1,353 detainees were interviewed at the Brisbane police watch-house. The majority (86%) were males and the average age was 33 years. Male and female detainees were, on average, the same age (33 years; see Table 33).

Overall, the number of detainees surveyed in 2010 was down by 11 percent on 2009, although this decrease was not equal for men and women. In 2010, there was a five percent decrease in the number of women surveyed and a 14 percent decrease in the number of men surveyed compared with figures for 2009. This decrease is largely due to a decline in the number of detainees processed during the DUMA interview hours in 2010. Overall, for both 2009 and 2010, there was a notable decline in the number of detainees processed during DUMA interview hours when compared with 2008.

In 2010, the average age of detainees increased by one year, to 33 years of age, compared with 2009. This modest increase from 2009 to 2010 was consistent for both male and female detainees.

Offending

In 2009–10, Brisbane detainees were arrested and detained for a total of 3,931 charges. Consistent with previous years, the average number of charges per detainee was three and the maximum was 10. Charges for property offences were those most frequently recorded, comprising 25 percent of all charges for 2009–10. This was followed by violent offences (22%), breach offences (15%), drug offences (14%), disorder offences (6%), road and traffic offences (6%) and drink driving offences (1%). A further 465 charges were recorded as ‘other offences’ not otherwise falling into the categories listed above (see Table 34).

The most serious offence classification—an approach that categorises each offender according to the most serious charge listed on their charge sheet—has been used consistently since 1999. In Brisbane in the period of 2009–10, 29 percent of detainees were classified as most serious violent offenders, having at least one violent offence recorded on their charge sheet. Of the remaining 71 percent, 24 percent were property offenders, 24 percent were breach offenders, 10 percent were drug offenders, four percent were disorder offenders, three percent were road and traffic offenders and two percent were drink driving offenders. A further four percent were recorded as ‘other offenders’ not otherwise falling into the categories listed above (see Table 34). Between 2009 and 2010, the most notable change in the offence classification was an increase of five percentage points in the proportion of breach offenders. However, overall, there are no substantial changes in the offence categories when compared with earlier years.

One in three male detainees in 2009–10 was in custody for a violent offence (31%), with violence being the single most frequently recorded offence type, followed by breach (25%), property (22%) and drug offences (10%). Female detainees were less likely than males to be detained for a violent offence (20% cf 31%) and more likely to be detained for a property offence (37% cf 22%).

Prior criminal justice contact

For half of the Brisbane detainees in 2009–10, the current episode of contact with the police was not an isolated incident: 50 percent had been charged on at least one separate occasion in the previous 12 months (see Table 35). Overall, the proportion of detainees reporting a prior history of police contact was not notably different from previous years. Male detainees were slightly more likely than female detainees to have been previously charged with at least one additional offence (51% cf 48%).

One in five detainees in Brisbane (21%) had spent time in prison in the previous 12 months, with males being more likely than females to report a recent prison history (22% cf 14%; see Table 35). Between 2009 and 2010, there was a five percentage point decrease in the number of detainees that reported having a prison history. Yet, overall, the results from 2009 and 2010 were not substantially different when compared with earlier years.

Education, housing and employment

For nearly half (43%) of the Brisbane sample in 2009–10, Year 10 was the highest level of education attained (see Table 36). Nearly as many detainees (40%) had attempted or completed a post-secondary TAFE or university qualification—results that are generally inconsistent between male and female detainees. Male detainees were more likely to have attempted or completed a post-secondary TAFE or university qualification than female detainees (41% cf 37%), while female detainees were more likely to have attained Year 10 as their highest education level (48% cf 42% for males).

By gender, the most notable change between 2009 and 2010 for male detainees was a seven percentage point decrease in the proportion reporting Year 10 as the highest level of education achieved (45% cf 38% in 2010), which represents an overall increase in scholastic achievement. For female detainees, the most notable change compared with the previous year was a four percentage point decrease in the proportion of detainees having completed only Year 10 at high school (51% cf 47% in 2010), which again represents an overall increase in scholastic achievement. However, overall, the levels of education of detainees in 2009–10, for both males and females, are not substantially different when compared with earlier years.

Nearly all detainees (86%) reported most recently residing in a private residence (in the 30 days before their arrest). This figure consists of those who lived in a privately owned or rented residence (49%) and those who lived in a residence owned or rented by someone else (37%). A small number of detainees (7%) reported having no fixed address or living in emergency accommodation (see Table 36). Overall, there was no notable difference in these proportions when compared with previous years.

More than one in four detainees (29%) throughout 2009 and 2010 reported being in full-time employment at the time of their arrest, while 153 detainees (11%) were employed part-time. The remaining 801 detainees (60%) were not working at the time of their arrest and of these:

  • 354 (26%) were looking for work;
  • 231 (17%) were not looking for work;
  • 140 (10%) were not working either because they were on leave from work or due to illness, disability or the seasonal nature of their employment;
  • 41 (3%) were full-time homemakers; and
  • 35 (3%) were retired or studying.

There were no notable differences in employment status between 2009 and 2010. Overall, detainees’ employment status in 2009 and 2010 was not substantially different when compared with earlier years.

Male detainees were more likely to be employed full-time or part-time (44%), compared with female detainees (21%), who were more likely to be unemployed and not looking for work (24% cf 16% for males) or not working because of their role as a full-time homemaker (17% cf 1% for males; see Table 36). There were only modest changes in the employment status of detainees between 2009 and 2010. Male detainees’ employment status remained relatively consistent from 2009–10. For females, there was a nine percentage point decrease in the proportion engaged in full-time or part-time employment in 2010 (17%).

Drug use

Urinalysis screening was conducted for five drug classes—amphetamines, benzodiazepine, cannabis, cocaine and opiates—and secondary screening tests were conducted for the opiate pharmacotherapy substances methadone and buprenorphine. In addition, confirmatory analysis was conducted for samples positive to amphetamines and opiates (not including pharmacotherapies). Opiates were then classified as either heroin or other opiates (including prescription opiates). Amphetamines were classified as methamphetamine, MDMA, or other amphetamines (including prescription amphetamines).

Of the 1,317 detainees that provided a urine sample in Brisbane throughout 2009 and 2010, 65 percent tested positive to at least one drug type. This figure is lower than the proportion of detainees that tested positive to any drug before 2008. This may be partially attributable to a decline in the use of cannabis during the same period: there has been a gradual decline in the use of cannabis since the Brisbane site first began collecting data. Despite being in decline, cannabis (45%) was still the most commonly detected drug in Brisbane across 2009–10, followed by benzodiazepines (26%), opiates (22%) and amphetamines (18%). Only six detainees tested positive to cocaine across 2009 and 2010 (<1%). Of those who tested positive to amphetamines, the majority were confirmed to have used methamphetamine (16%), only 14 detainees had used MDMA (1%) and 10 detainees tested positive to another amphetamine type substance (1%). Of those who tested positive to an opiate-based substance, 14 percent tested positive to heroin, four percent tested positive to methadone, nine percent tested positive to buprenorphine and five percent tested positive to other opiate-based substances (see Table 37).

Female detainees were more likely than males to test positive to amphetamines (21% cf 17%), opiates (38% cf 20%) and benzodiazepines (40% cf 23%). Male detainees, on the other hand, were more likely to test positive to cannabis (46% cf 38% for females). Urinalysis results in 2010 remained consistent with the 2009 results (66% cf 65% in 2010). Test positive results for most categories of drug were stable from 2009 to 2010, though there was a substantial increase and a rise of eight percentage points in the use of amphetamines (22% cf 14% in 2009). There was a four percentage point decrease in positive cannabis tests in 2010 (43% cf 47% in 2009), a two percentage point increase in heroin use (15% cf 13% in 2009) and no notable change in buprenorphine use (10% cf 9%) or benzodiazepine use (26% cf 25%).

Self-reported alcohol use

Alcohol use among detainees cannot be reliably tested using urinalysis. Instead, the DUMA survey relies on a range of questions regarding recent and lifetime alcohol use, including whether the detainee had consumed alcohol in the 48 hours before their arrest. Overall throughout 2009 and 2010, 39 percent of detainees reported drinking in the previous 48 hours, which was not notably different when compared with earlier years. Male detainees were substantially more likely to have been drinking than female detainees (40% cf 28%; see Table 38). Rates of recent alcohol consumption were relatively unchanged for male and female detainees compared with 2008.

Alcohol consumption patterns

In the third quarter of 2009, changes were made to the DUMA survey in an effort to capture a wider range of information about detainees’ alcohol consumption. In particular, an alcohol consumption grid was developed to identify both the type and quantity of alcohol consumed during the last episode of drinking. Units of consumption can therefore be disaggregated both by size and strength so that standard drink estimates can be developed.

In all, for 2009–10, 73 percent of detainees had consumed at least one alcoholic drink in the 30 days before their arrest. On the last occasion of drinking, 35 percent of these detainees had consumed beer only, 12 percent had consumed wine only and 33 percent had consumed spirits only. It was not uncommon for detainees to have mixed different types of alcohol: the remaining 20 percent had consumed at least two types of alcohol on the last occasion.

In terms of quantity, the average number of standard drinks consumed on the last occasion was 13. Beer-only drinkers consumed an average of nine standard drinks, wine-only drinkers drank an average of 15 standard drinks and spirit-only drinkers consumed an average of 11 standard drinks on the last occasion. Those who mixed drinks tended to have a high consumption rate, at 21 standard drinks. Though these figures are high, it is important to note that the length of time spent drinking on the last occasion would have varied from person to person.

Female detainees were more likely than males to have most recently consumed spirits or wine, while males were more likely than females to drink beer. More than half of all female detainees who had consumed alcohol in the previous 30 days had consumed spirits only on the last occasion (52% cf 31% for males), whereas more than one in three males had consumed beer only (38% cf 13% for female). The quantity of alcohol consumed on the last occasion was, on average, higher among males than females across all alcohol types (see Table 38).

Drug and alcohol treatment and mental health

In 2009–10, 86 Brisbane detainees reported that they were in drug or alcohol treatment at the time of their arrest. This figure represents approximately 10 percent of those who had used at least one illicit drug in the past 12 months. Treatment options included support groups, counselling and pharmacotherapy. A further 319 detainees had been previously in a treatment program but were no longer in treatment at the time of their arrest. Of those currently in treatment, one in five had been referred by the courts or police or as a result of a legal order. The remaining four-fifths were either self-referred or referred by a health practitioner (see Table 39). Overall, treatment access has declined from 2009 to 2010 (12% cf 7%); however, overall, there was no notable difference for 2009–10 compared with the earlier years.

Questions relevant to the mental health of detainees were revised in the third quarter of 2009. In the first two quarters, detainees were asked whether they had stayed overnight in a psychiatric or psychological services unit on at least one occasion in the previous 12 months. In the third and fourth quarters of 2009, detainees were asked whether they had ever been diagnosed with or received treatment for depression, anxiety or any other mental health related issue (that is, not just in the previous 12 months). Overall, 15 detainees (4%) reported at least one overnight stay in a psychiatric unit and 413 detainees (43%) reported having been previously diagnosed with a mental health related issue (see Table 40).

Although the numbers are small, female detainees were slightly more likely to report an overnight stay in a psychiatric unit (5% cf 4% for males) and were also more likely to report having been previously diagnosed with a mental health related issue (53% cf 41% for males). Given that the new questions regarding mental health diagnosis were first implemented in the third quarter of 2009, reliable trend data is not yet available.

Linking drugs and crime

The link between drugs and crime is measured in the DUMA study using a range of indicators, including the extent to which drug use varies between offenders of different offence types and the extent to which an offender reports that drugs or alcohol were a factor that contributed to their most recent offending.

Of the 1,317 respondents who provided a urine sample in 2009–10 and were charged with an offence, 65 percent tested positive to at least one drug type. By most serious offence, the prevalence of recent drug use varied by offence type. Breach offenders (75%) were most likely to test positive to at least one drug type and violent offenders the least likely to test positive (54%). Test positive rates for other offenders were:

  • 67 percent for property offenders;
  • 67 percent for drug offenders;
  • 58 percent for drink driving offenders; and
  • 65 percent for disorder offenders.

Test positive rates varied by offence type across 2009 and 2010. For example, there was a 10 percentage point increase in the number of violent offenders who tested positive to any drug (59% cf 49% in 2009), a 29 percentage point decrease in drug use among drink driving offenders and a 16 percentage point decrease in drug use among road and traffic offenders. The rate of positive tests for any drug for all other offences stayed consistent across 2009 and 2010. Overall, test positive rates for violent, property and drug offenders in 2009–10 were notably lower when compared with earlier years.

Although the prevalence of drug use varied somewhat between offenders depending on their offence, the pattern of use by drug type was relatively consistent. In all cases throughout 2009–10, the drug most commonly used among detainees was cannabis, followed by amphetamines, opiates or benzodiazepines. Violent, property, drink driving, disorder and breach offenders all had higher rates of benzodiazepine use than amphetamines use. The opposite was true for drug offenders, while road and traffic offenders had equal levels of use. Breach offenders had higher rates of opiate use than benzodiazepine use; while road and traffic offenders and property offenders had equal levels of use (see Table 41).

In mid-2009 a set of new questions was developed in an effort to identify the relationship between substance use (drugs and/or alcohol) and the offences for which detainees were currently in custody. Nearly half of all respondents (45%) confirmed that their substance use contributed to their current offences. By most serious offence, those detained on a drink driving offence had the highest level of combined drug/alcohol attribution (70%), followed by violent offenders (48%), disorder offenders (47%), breach offenders (46%), drug offenders (45%), property offenders (42%) and road and traffic offenders (14%). Alcohol was more likely than other substances to be identified as a contributing factor by violent, drink driving and disorder offenders, whereas other substances such as heroin and amphetamines were more likely than alcohol to be implicated by property, drug, breach and road and traffic offenders (see Table 41).

Table 33: Brisbane DUMA sample, by age and gender, 2009–10
MaleFemaleTotal
n%n%n%
Age
18–20 141 12 15 8 156 12
21–25 238 20 39 20 277 20
26–30 225 19 35 18 260 19
31–35 154 13 41 21 195 14
36+ 404 35 61 32 465 34
Total 1,162 191 1,353
Min/max age 18/79 18/66 18/79
Mean age (median) 33(30) 33(32) 33(30)

Note: Percentages may not total 100 due to rounding

Source: AIC DUMA collection 2010 [computer file]

Table 34: Brisbane DUMA sample, by offending history and gender, 2009–10a
MaleFemaleTotal
ChargesDetainees most serious offenceChargesDetainees most serious offenceChargesDetainees most serious offence
n%n%n%n%n%n%
Charges recorded
Violent 785 23 355 31 66 12 39 20 851 22 394 29
Property 744 22 252 22 231 42 71 37 975 25 323 24
Drug 495 15 115 10 49 9 17 9 544 14 132 10
Drink driving 42 1 24 2 2 0 2 1 44 1 26 2
Traffic 200 6 31 3 25 5 6 3 225 6 37 3
Disorder 217 6 50 4 27 5 9 5 244 6 59 4
Breach 508 15 285 25 75 14 42 22 583 15 327 24
Other 396 12 50 4 69 13 5 3 465 12 55 4
Total 3,387 1,162 544 191 3,931 1,353

a: Sample size may vary, as cases may have been excluded due to missing data

Note: Percentages may not total 100 due to rounding

Source: AIC DUMA collection 2010 [computer file]

Table 35: Brisbane DUMA sample, by criminal history and gender, 2009–10a
MaleFemaleTotal
n%n%n%
Prior charge history (past 12 months)
Yes 561 51 83 48 644 50
No 547 49 91 52 638 50
Prior prison history (past 12 months)
Yes 249 22 26 14 275 21
No 895 78 156 86 1,051 79

a: Sample size may vary, as cases may have been excluded due to missing data

Source: AIC DUMA collection 2010 [computer file]

Table 36: Brisbane DUMA sample, by education, housing, employment and gender, 2009–10a
MaleFemaleTotal
n%n%n%
Education
Year 10 or less 486 42 93 48 579 43
Year 11 or 12 201 17 30 16 231 17
TAFE/university not completed 149 13 26 14 175 13
Completed TAFE 249 21 34 18 283 21
Completed university 77 7 9 5 86 6
Total 1,162 192 1,354
Housing
Private house/apartment 551 47 107 56 658 49
Someone else’s place 441 38 59 31 500 37
Shelter or emergency 8 1 1 1 9 1
Incarceration facility/halfway house 19 2 0 0 19 1
Treatment facility 7 1 0 0 7 1
No fixed residence 72 6 16 8 88 7
Other 64 6 8 4 72 5
Total 1,162 191 1,353
Employment
Full-time 370 32 29 15 399 29
Part-time 141 12 12 6 153 11
Have job but out due to illness/leave/strike/disability/seasonal work 121 10 19 10 140 10
Looking for work 306 26 48 25 354 26
Not looking for work 185 16 46 24 231 17
Full-time homemakers 9 1 32 17 41 3
Retired or studying 30 3 5 3 35 3
Total 1,162 191 1,353

a: Sample size may vary, as cases may have been excluded due to missing data

Note: Percentages may not total 100 due to rounding

Source: AIC DUMA collection 2010 [computer file]

Table 37: Brisbane DUMA sample, by urinalysis test results and gender, 2009–10
MaleFemaleTotal
n%n%n%
Provided urine
Yes 1,133 98 184 96 1,317 97
No 29 2 7 4 36 3
Test results
Cannabis 524 46 69 38 593 45
Cocaine 6 1 0 0 6 0
Methamphetamine 176 16 37 20 213 16
MDMA 13 1 1 1 14 1
Other amphetamines 9 1 1 1 10 1
(Any amphetamines)a (194) (17) (38) (21) (232) (18)
Heroin 134 12 45 24 179 14
Methadone 28 2 21 11 49 4
Buprenorphine 95 8 24 13 119 9
Other opiates 51 5 11 6 62 5
(Any opiate)b (224) (20) (70) (38) (294) (22)
Benzodiazepines 265 23 73 40 338 26
Any drug 733 65 129 70 862 65
Any drug other than cannabis 457 40 114 62 571 43
Multiple drugs 337 30 85 46 422 32

a: Detainees may test positive to more than one class of amphetamine

b: Detainees may test positive to more than one class of opiate

Source: AIC DUMA collection 2010 [computer file]

Table 38: Brisbane DUMA sample, by self-reported alcohol use and gender, 2009–10
MaleFemaleTotal
n%n%n%
Alcohol use
Past 48 hoursa 467 40 53 28 520 39
Past 30 daysb 621 75 89 63 710 73
Alcohol type consumed on last drinking occasionb
Beer only 239 38 12 13 251 35
Wine only 71 11 14 16 85 12
Spirits only 191 31 46 52 237 33
Mixed drinksc 122 20 17 19 139 20
MaleFemaleTotal
nmean (median)nmean (median)nmean (median)
Quantities consumed on last drinking occasion (standard drinks)b
Beer only 239 9(6) 11 6(3) 250 9(6)
Wine only 70 15(8) 14 12(4) 84 15(7)
Spirits only 190 12(8) 46 9(5) 236 11(7)
Mixed drinksc 122 21(18) 17 17(10) 139 21(17)

a: Only if consumed alcohol in the past 30 days

b: Data are quarter 3 2009 onwards only

c: ‘Mixed drinks’ refers to consuming more than one type of alcohol

Source: AIC DUMA collection 2010 [computer file]

Table 39: Brisbane DUMA sample, by drug and alcohol treatment and gender, 2009–10a, b
MaleFemaleTotal
n%n%n%
Treatment
Never been in treatment 413 55 49 40 462 53
Been in, but not currently in treatment 272 36 47 39 319 37
Currently in treatment 61 8 25 21 86 10
Treatment referral of those currently in treatment
Drug court requirement 9 15 0 0 9 11
Court diversion scheme 1 2 0 0 1 1
Police diversion scheme 0 0 0 0 0 0
Other legal order 6 10 2 8 8 9
Otherc 44 73 23 92 67 79

a: Treatment options include detoxification, rehabilitation program/therapeutic community, outpatient/counselling services, support groups (Alcoholics Anonymous, Narcotics Anonymous etc), methadone maintenance, naltrexone, buprenorphine and general practitioners

b: Only of those who had used drugs or alcohol in the past 12 months

c: ‘Other’ refers to ‘referral from general practitioner or health professional’ and ‘self-referral’

Note: Percentages may not total 100 due to rounding

Source: AIC DUMA collection 2010 [computer file]

Table 40: Brisbane DUMA sample, by mental health status and gender, 2009–10
MaleFemaleTotal
n%n%n%
Overnight stay in psychiatric/psychological services unit (past 12 months)a
Yes 13 4 2 5 15 4
No 282 96 42 95 324 96
Ever been diagnosed or received treatment for depression, anxiety or any other mental health related issueb
Yes 339 41 74 53 413 43
No 489 59 65 47 554 57

a: Data are for quarter 1 and quarter 2 2009 only

b: Data are for quarter 3 2009 onwards only

Source: AIC DUMA collection 2010 [computer file]

Table 41: Brisbane DUMA sample, by urinalysis test results and drug–crime attributions by most serious offending, 2009–10a
ViolentPropertyDrugDrink drivingTrafficDisorderBreachOtherTotal
(n=383)%(n=315)%(n=129)%(n=26)%(n=36)%(n=57)%(n=317)%(n=54)%(n=1,317)%
Urinalysis results
Cannabis 146 38 134 43 63 49 10 38 18 50 33 58 154 49 35 65 593 45
Cocaine 3 1 0 0 3 2 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 6 0
Amphetaminesb 40 10 67 21 37 29 4 15 5 14 4 7 65 21 10 19 232 18
Opiatesc 56 15 85 27 20 16 2 8 5 14 9 16 99 31 18 33 294 22
Benzodiazepines 87 23 86 27 29 22 5 19 5 14 13 23 95 30 18 33 338 26
(Any drug) 205 54 211 67 87 67 15 58 23 64 37 65 239 75 45 83 862 65
(Any drug other than cannabis) 129 34 149 47 62 48 8 31 11 31 19 33 166 52 27 50 571 43
(Multiple drugs) 92 24 107 34 45 35 3 12 8 22 17 30 126 40 24 44 422 32
Self-reported drug–crime attributiond, e
Alcohol 105 36 24 10 11 13 14 70 1 4 18 47 66 25 3 30 242 25
Other drugs 51 18 85 36 31 36 1 5 3 11 4 11 74 28 1 10 250 26
Any attribution 140 48 99 42 39 45 14 70 4 14 18 47 122 46 4 40 440 45

a: Sample sizes may vary, as cases may have been excluded due to missing data

b: Includes methamphetamine, MDMA and other amphetamines

c: Includes heroin, methadone, buprenorphine and other opiates

d: Data are from quarter 3 2009 onwards only

e: Missing data excluded from analysis

Note: Percentages may not total 100 due to rounding

Source: AIC DUMA collection 2010 [computer file]

Figure 10: Test positive trends, males by drug type, Brisbane 2002–10 (%)

 Test positive trends, males by drug type, Brisbane 2002–10 (%)

Source: AIC DUMA collection 2010 [computer file]

Figure 11: Test positive trends, females by drug type, Brisbane 2002–10 (%)

 Test positive trends, females by drug type, Brisbane 2002–10 (%)

Source: AIC DUMA collection 2010 [computer file]