Australian Institute of Criminology

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Darwin

Sample

Throughout 2009–10, 626 detainees were interviewed at the Darwin police lockup. The majority (85%) were males and the average age was 31 years (see Table 42). Female detainees were, on average, one year older than male detainees (32 years cf 31 years).

Overall, the number of detainees surveyed in 2010 increased by nine percent compared with 2009 and this increase was almost identical among male and female detainees. This increase in the number of detainees surveyed comes despite a substantial decrease of 19 percentage points in the proportion of detainees processed during the DUMA interview hours in 2009. Overall, the proportion of detainees processed during DUMA interview hours in 2010 was substantially lower when compared with any full year of data collection at Darwin.

The average age of detainees increased modestly from 31 years in 2009 to 32 years in 2010, driven largely by an older female detainee population. In 2010, for example, the average age of female detainees in Darwin was two years higher than in the previous year (33 years cf 31 years in 2009). The average age of male detainees stayed consistent between 2009 and 2010, at 31 years of age.

Offending

In 2009–10, Darwin detainees were arrested and detained for a total of 1,308 charges. Consistent with previous years, the average number of charges per detainee was two and the maximum number of charges was 10. Charges for violent offences were those most frequently recorded, comprising 21 percent of all charges for the period, followed by breaches of justice orders (16%), property offences (12%), road and traffic offences (11%), disorder offences (10%), drink driving offences (8%) and drug offences (2%). A further 256 charges were recorded as ‘other offences’ not otherwise falling into the categories listed above (see Table 43).

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 Darwin, in the period of 2009 and 2010, 33 percent of detainees were classified as most serious violent offenders, having at least one violent offence recorded on their charge sheet. Of the remaining 67 percent, 18 percent were breach offenders, 15 percent were property offenders, 13 percent were drink driving offenders, nine percent were disorder offenders, five percent were road and traffic offenders and three percent were drug offenders (see Table 43). A further four percent were recorded as ‘other offences’ not otherwise falling into the categories listed above. In 2010, there was a four percentage point increase in the proportion of detainees charged with a violent offence (35% cf 31%) and an eight percentage point increase in the proportion of detainees charged with a breach offence (21% cf 13%) when compared with 2009. Overall for 2009–10, there was no substantial difference in any of the offence classifications when compared with earlier years.

One in three male detainees was in custody for a violent offence (34%). Violence was the single most frequently recorded offence type, followed by breach (17%), property (14%) and drink driving offences (14%). A smaller proportion of female detainees than male detainees were detained for a violent offence and were much less likely to be detained for a drink driving offence (9%), although they were more likely than male detainees to be detained for a property offence (19%).

Prior criminal justice contact

For more than half of the Darwin detainees in 2009 and 2010, the current episode of contact with the police was not an isolated incident: 55 percent had been charged on at least one separate occasion in the previous 12 months (see Table 44). In 2010 there was a sizeable increase in prior contact in the previous 12 months compared with 2009 (63%, up from 47%). Overall, the result in 2010 was notably higher when compared with earlier years. By gender in 2009 and 2010, male and female detainees were almost equally likely to have been previously charged (55% cf 54%).

Approximately one in five detainees in Darwin (22%) had spent time in prison in the previous 12 months (see Table 44), with male detainees being more likely to report a recent prison history (24% cf 8% for females). Overall, this was markedly lower than the 30 percent of detainees reporting a recent prison history when data collection first began in Darwin in 2006.

Education, housing and employment

For almost two-thirds (65%) of the Darwin sample, Year 10 was the highest level of education attained—a result that was notably higher when compared with earlier years. This increase was primarily driven by the 2009 education level, which was substantially higher than that in 2010 (72% cf 58%). Fewer than one in five detainees (19%) had attempted or completed a post-secondary TAFE or university qualification (see Table 45). Male detainees were more likely than female detainees to have attempted or completed a post-secondary TAFE or university qualification (20% cf 12%) and less likely to have only reached Year 10 as their highest level of education (64% cf 72% for females). The most notable change among male detainees in 2010 was a steep increase in overall scholastic achievement (a decrease of 16 percentage points in the proportion having completed Year 10 or less) compared with 2009. For female detainees, the most notable change in 2010 compared with the previous year was an 11 percentage point increase in the proportion of female detainees having attempted or completed a post-secondary TAFE or university qualification.

In 2009–10, nearly all detainees (92%) reported most recently residing in a private residence in the 30 days before their arrest. The majority of these detainees lived in a privately owned or rented residence (58%) and the minority lived in a residence owned or rented by someone else (34%). There are differences between the 2009 and 2010 levels. In 2009, 68 percent of detainees reported most recently residing in a private residence in the 30 days before their arrest, compared with 49 percent in 2010. In 2010, more detainees also reported living in a residence owned or rented by someone else than in 2009 (41% cf 26% in 2009). Overall, the proportion of Darwin detainees that reported that they were living in a private residence has remained relatively static since data collection began.

By gender, the housing situation of both male and female detainees was generally consistent except that, though the numbers are small, some male detainees reported their recent residence to be a prison or halfway house (1%) or a treatment facility or hospital (<1%) or that they had no fixed address (2%), while only one percent of females detainees reported living at no fixed address (see Table 45).

Throughout 2009–10, one in five detainees (22%) reported being in full-time employment at the time of their arrest, while 39 detainees (6%) were employed part-time. The remaining 450 detainees (72%) were not working at the time of their arrest and of these:

  • 158 (25%) were looking for work;
  • 202 (32%) were not looking for work;
  • 74 (12%) were not working either because they were on leave from work or due to illness, disability or the seasonal nature of their employment;
  • 9 (1%) were full-time homemakers; and
  • 7 (1%) were retired or studying (see Table 45).

From 2009 to 2010, there were a number of notable changes in the employment status of detainees in Darwin. For example, there was a 12 percentage point decrease in the proportion of detainees working full-time (28% in 2009 cf 16% in 2010), a 20 percentage point increase in the proportion of detainees who reported that they were unemployed and looking for work (15% cf 35%) and an 11 percentage point increase in the proportion of detainees who reported that they were unable to work due to disability (4% cf 16%). However, these fluctuations were consistent with the data from earlier years, suggesting no notable change in the employment status of detainees at Darwin in the longer term.

Male detainees were more likely to be employed full-time or part-time (31%) than female detainees (15%), who were more likely to be unemployed and not looking for work (45% cf 30% for males) or not working because of their role as a full-time homemaker (6% cf 1% for males). There were some substantial changes in the employment status of detainees from 2009 to 2010. For male detainees, the proportion that was unemployed and not looking for work decreased by 21 percentage points compared with 2009 (20% in 2010); there was also a 14 percentage point decrease in the proportion working full-time (18% in 2010). For females, the proportion that was unemployed and not looking for work decreased by 31 percentage points compared with the previous year (30% in 2010).

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 269 detainees who provided a urine sample throughout 2009 and 2010, 55 percent tested positive to at least one drug type. Comparing the test positive rates separately for each year, there was a seven percentage point increase in the rate that detainees tested positive to any drug in 2010 (52% cf 59%). This increase may be attributable to a six percentage point increase in the test positive rate to cannabis from 2009 to 2010 (46% cf 52%) although, overall, levels of use of any drug and cannabis in 2009 and 2010 were substantially lower when compared with the earlier data from Darwin.

For the period of 2009–10, the drug most commonly detected was cannabis (49%), followed by amphetamines (6%), opiates (6%) and benzodiazepines (5%). Only one detainee tested positive to cocaine across 2009 and 2010. Of those who tested positive to amphetamines, the majority were confirmed to have used methamphetamine (5%), while only three detainees had used MDMA (1%) and no detainee tested positive to another amphetamine type substance. Of those testing positive to an opiate-based substance, two percent tested positive to heroin, one percent tested positive to methadone, three percent tested positive to buprenorphine and two percent tested positive to other opiate-based substances (see Table 46).

Female detainees in 2009–10 were more likely than males to test positive to opiates (15% cf 4%) and benzodiazepines (10% cf 4%), while male detainees were more likely to test positive to cannabis (50% cf 43% for females) and amphetamines (6% cf 5% for females).

As noted earlier, positive urinalysis results in 2010 were higher than in the previous year, with more detainees testing positive to at least one drug (59% cf 52% in 2009). This increase was predominantly driven by a notable increase in the detection of cannabis, which increased six percentage points in 2010 (up to 52%). Test positive results for most other categories of drug were generally stable: for example, there was only a two percentage point increase in positive benzodiazepine tests (up to 6%), a three percentage point increase for buprenorphine (up to 5%), a one percentage point decrease for amphetamines (down to 5%) and no noticeable change for heroin (2% each year).

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. In 2009 and 2010, 76 percent of detainees reported drinking in the previous 48 hours (see Table 47), which, when compared with recent years, was not notably different. Male and female detainees reported almost identical levels of recently consumed alcohol (76% cf 78%). In 2010, there was an eight percentage point decrease for male detainees and a four percentage point decrease for female detainees in the proportion that reported having recently consumed alcohol when compared with 2009.

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, 88 percent of detainees had consumed at least one alcoholic drink in the 30 days before their arrest. On the last occasion of drinking, 36 percent of these detainees had consumed beer only, 26 percent had consumed wine only and 20 percent had consumed spirits only. It was not uncommon for detainees to have mixed different types of alcohol: the remaining 19 percent reported consuming 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 in 2009–10 was 18. Beer-only drinkers consumed an average of 13 standard drinks, wine-only drinkers drank an average of 23 standard drinks and spirit-only drinkers consumed an average of 15 standard drinks on the last occasion. Those who mixed drinks tended to have the highest consumption rate, at 27 standard drinks. Though these figures are high, it is important to note that the length of time spent drinking on the last occasion would vary from person to person.

Female detainees were more likely than males to have most recently consumed wine, while males were more likely than females to drink beer or spirits. One in four female detainees who had consumed alcohol in the previous 30 days had consumed spirits only on the last occasion (25% cf 19% for males), whereas more than one in three males had consumed beer only (38% cf 19% for females). Nearly one in two female detainees reported drinking wine only, compared with just one in four male detainees (46% cf 22%). The quantity of alcohol consumed on the last occasion was, on average, higher among males than females across all alcohol types (see Table 47).

Drug and alcohol treatment and mental health

In 2009–10, six detainees in Darwin reported that they were in drug or alcohol treatment at the time of their arrest. This figure represents approximately two 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 99 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 detainee was referred through a court diversion program and the remainder were either self-referred or referred by a health practitioner (see Table 48). Overall, treatment access remained consistent across 2009 and 2010; however, the proportion of detainees in drug or alcohol treatment at the time of their arrest had decreased by five percentage points since 2008 (down to 2% in 2009 and 2010).

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 beginning of the third quarter 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, one detainee (1%) reported at least one overnight stay in a psychiatric unit and 85 detainees (19%) reported having been previously diagnosed with a mental health related issue (see Table 49).

No female detainees and only one male detainee reported an overnight stay in a psychiatric unit. Female and male detainees were equally likely to report having been previously diagnosed with a mental health related issue (19% respectively). 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 265 respondents who provided a urine sample in 2009–10 and were charged with an offence, 56 percent tested positive to at least one drug type. The prevalence of recent drug use varied by most serious offence type, with drug offenders (70%) the most likely to test positive to at least one drug type and drink driving offenders the least likely to test positive (35%). Test positive rates for other offenders were:

  • 61 percent for violent offenders;
  • 65 percent for property offenders;
  • 54 percent for disorder offenders; and
  • 59 percent for breach offenders.

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 and 2010, the drug most commonly used among detainees was cannabis, and levels of amphetamines, benzodiazepines or opiates were generally low. Drug offenders had the highest rate of use of any one of these drugs, with 40 percent testing positive to amphetamines. Drink driving, road and traffic, and drug offenders all had higher rates of amphetamines use than benzodiazepines use. The opposite was true for breach, violent and property and disorder offenders (see Table 50).

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. More than half of all respondents (58%) 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 (91%), followed by disorder offenders (63%), violent offenders (59%), breach offenders (53%), property offenders (46%), drug offenders (40%) and road and traffic offenders (27%). Alcohol was more likely than other substances to be identified as a contributing factor by violent, property, drink driving, road and traffic, disorder and breach offenders, whereas other substances such as heroin and amphetamines were more likely than alcohol to be implicated by drug offenders (see Table 50).

Table 42: Darwin DUMA sample, by age and gender, 2009–10
MaleFemaleTotal
n%n%n%
Age
18–20 77 15 14 15 91 15
21–25 115 22 24 25 139 22
26–30 95 18 9 9 104 17
31–35 74 14 14 15 88 14
36+ 169 32 35 36 204 33
Total 530 96 626
Min/max age 18/64 18/53 18/64
Mean age (median) 31(29) 32(31) 31(29)

Note: Percentages may not total 100 due to rounding

Source: AIC DUMA collection 2010 [computer file]

Table 43: Darwin DUMA sample, by offending and gender, 2009–10a
MaleFemaleTotal
ChargesDetainees most serious offenceChargesDetainees most serious offenceChargesDetainees most serious offence
n%n%n%n%n%n%
Charges recorded
Violent 239 21 176 34 37 19 29 31 276 21 205 33
Property 133 12 75 14 26 13 19 20 159 12 94 15
Drug 28 3 16 3 2 1 2 2 30 2 18 3
Drink driving 89 8 74 14 13 7 8 9 102 8 82 13
Traffic 139 12 31 6 4 2 1 1 143 11 32 5
Disorder 109 10 44 8 26 13 10 11 135 10 54 9
Breach 176 16 91 17 31 16 18 19 207 16 109 18
Other 201 18 18 3 55 28 7 7 256 20 25 4
Total 1,114 525 194 94 1,308 619

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 44: Darwin DUMA sample, by criminal history and gender, 2009–10a
MaleFemaleTotal
n%n%n%
Prior charge history (past 12 months)
Yes 286 55 51 54 337 55
No 231 45 44 46 275 45
Prior prison history (past 12 months)
Yes 127 24 8 8 135 22
No 397 76 88 92 485 78

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

Source: AIC DUMA collection 2010 [computer file]

Table 45: Darwin DUMA sample, education, housing, employment and gender, 2009–10a
MaleFemaleTotal
n%n%n%
Education
Year 10 or less 337 64 69 72 406 65
Year 11 or 12 89 17 15 16 104 17
TAFE/university not completed 34 6 3 3 37 6
Completed TAFE 62 12 8 8 70 11
Completed university 8 2 1 1 9 1
Total 530 96 626
Housing
Private house/apartment 279 58 44 54 323 58
Someone else’s place 161 34 30 37 191 34
Shelter or emergency 0 0 0 0 0 0
Incarceration facility/halfway house 3 1 0 0 3 1
Treatment facility 2 0 0 0 2 0
No fixed residence 10 2 1 1 11 2
Other 24 5 6 7 30 5
Total 479 81 560
Employment
Full-time 130 25 7 7 137 22
Part-time 32 6 7 7 39 6
Have job but out due to illness/leave/strike/disability/seasonal work 55 10 19 20 74 12
Looking for work 146 28 12 13 158 25
Not looking for work 159 30 43 45 202 32
Full-time homemakers 3 1 6 6 9 1
Retired or studying 5 1 2 2 7 1
Total 530 96 626

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 46: Darwin DUMA sample, urinalysis test results and gender, 2009–10
MaleFemaleTotal
n%n%n%
Provided urine
Yes 229 43 40 42 269 43
No 301 57 56 58 357 57
Test results
Cannabis 115 50 17 43 132 49
Cocaine 0 0 1 3 1 0
Methamphetamine 11 5 2 5 13 5
MDMA 3 1 0 0 3 1
Other amphetamines 0 0 0 0 0 0
(Any amphetamines)a (13) (6) (2) (5) (15) (6)
Heroin 4 2 1 3 5 2
Methadone 2 1 1 3 3 1
Buprenorphine 3 1 6 15 9 3
Other opiates 4 2 1 3 5 2
(Any opiate)b (9) (4) (6) (15) (15) (6)
Benzodiazepines 10 4 4 10 14 5
Any drug 127 55 22 55 149 55
Any drug other than cannabis 27 12 9 23 36 13
Multiple drugs 19 8 4 10 23 9

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 47: Darwin DUMA sample, by self-reported alcohol use and gender, 2009–10
MaleFemaleTotal
n%n%n%
Alcohol use
Past 48 hoursa 401 76 75 78 476 76
Past 30 daysa, b 342 88 58 85 400 88
Alcohol type consumed on last drinking occasionb
Beer only 131 38 11 19 142 36
Wine only 77 22 26 46 103 26
Spirits only 64 19 14 25 78 20
Mixed drinksc 71 21 6 11 77 19
MaleFemaleTotal
nmean (median)nmean (median)nmean (median)
Quantities consumed on last drinking occasion (standard drinks)b
Beer only 131 13(11) 11 10(9) 142 13(10)
Wine only 72 24(19) 23 18(19) 95 23(19)
Spirits only 63 16(12) 14 13(11) 77 15(12)
Mixed drinksc 71 27(23) 6 25(22) 77 27(23)

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 48: Darwin DUMA sample, by drug and alcohol treatment and gender, 2009–10a, b
MaleFemaleTotal
n%n%n%
Treatment
Never been in treatment 139 60 23 66 162 61
Been in, but not currently in treatment 88 38 11 31 99 37
Currently in treatment 5 2 1 3 6 2
Treatment referral of those currently in treatment
Drug court requirement 0 0 0 0 0 0
Court diversion scheme 1 20 0 0 1 17
Police diversion scheme 0 0 0 0 0 0
Other legal order 0 0 0 0 0 0
Otherc 4 80 1 100 5 83

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’

Source: AIC DUMA collection 2010 [computer file]

Table 49: Darwin DUMA sample, by mental health and gender, 2009–10
MaleFemaleTotal
n%n%n%
Overnight stay in psychiatric/psychological services unit (past 12 months)a
Yes 1 1 0 0 1 1
No 134 99 27 100 161 99
Ever been diagnosed or received treatment for depression, anxiety or any other mental health related issueb
Yes 72 19 13 19 85 19
No 309 81 55 81 364 81

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 50: Darwin DUMA sample, by urinalysis test results and drug–crime attributions by most serious offending, 2009–10a
ViolentPropertyDrugDrink drivingTrafficDisorderBreachOtherTotal
(n=79)%(n=43)%(n=10)%(n=40)%(n=18)%(n=24)%(n=41)%(n=10)%(n=265)%
Urinalysis results
Cannabis 44 56 26 60 4 40 11 28 9 50 12 50 21 51 4 40 131 49
Cocaine 1 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 0
Amphetaminesb 2 3 3 7 4 40 3 8 3 17 0 0 0 0 0 0 15 6
Opiatesc 3 4 5 12 0 0 2 5 1 6 2 8 2 5 0 0 15 6
Benzodiazepines 4 5 5 12 1 10 1 3 0 0 1 4 1 2 1 10 14 5
(Any drug) 48 61 28 65 7 70 14 35 9 50 13 54 24 59 5 50 148 56
(Any drug other than cannabis) 8 10 9 21 4 40 5 13 4 22 2 8 3 7 1 10 36 14
(Multiple drugs) 4 5 8 19 2 20 3 8 4 22 2 8 0 0 0 0 23 9
Self-reported drug–crime attributiond, e
Alcohol 89 58 24 35 0 0 50 91 7 27 24 60 45 49 0 0 239 54
Other drugs 8 5 8 12 4 40 4 7 0 0 1 3 5 5 0 0 30 7
Any attribution 91 59 31 46 4 40 50 91 7 27 25 63 48 53 0 0 256 58

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 12: Test positive trends, males by drug type, Darwin 2006–10 (%)a

 Test positive trends, males by drug type, Darwin 2006–10 (%)

a: Data was not collected at this site during quarter 1 and 2, 2007

Source: AIC DUMA collection 2010 [computer file]

Figure 13: Test positive trends, females by drug type, Darwin 2006–10 (%)a

 Test positive trends, females by drug type, Darwin 2006–10 (%)

a: Data was not collected at this site during quarter 1 and 2, 2007

Source: AIC DUMA collection 2010 [computer file]