Australian Institute of Criminology

Skip to content

Parramatta

Sample

Throughout 2009–10, 277 detainees were interviewed in Parramatta. Since the beginning of 2009, data collection activities at the Parramatta police station have been rotated on a quarterly basis with the Kings Cross site. The majority of detainees (83%) were males and the average age was 32 years (see Table 78). Female detainees were, on average, one year older than male detainees (33 years cf 32 years).

Compared with 2009, the number of detainees surveyed in 2010 was down by eight percent, driven by a decline in the number of males surveyed. In 2010, there was a 12 percent decrease in the number of men surveyed, while the number of female detainees remained almost identical, with only an extra four female detainees surveyed in 2010. This decrease can be explained by a decline in the number of detainees processed during DUMA interview hours by 20 percent compared with 2009.

The average age of detainees remained consistent throughout 2009–10 at 32 years of age. However, in 2010, for example, the average age of female detainees in Parramatta increased by two years compared to 2009 (34 years cf 32 years). The average age of male detainees remained consistent in 2010 at 32 years of age.

Offending

Throughout 2009 and 2010, Parramatta detainees were arrested and detained on a total of 519 charges. Consistent with previous years, the average number of charges per detainee was two and the maximum number of charges was 10. Charges for a property offence were those most frequently recorded, comprising 27 percent of all charges for the year. This was followed by violent offences (24%), breaches of justice orders (10%), disorder offences (10%), road and traffic offences (6%), drug offences (5%) and drink driving offences (2%). A further 79 charges were recorded as ‘other offences’ not otherwise falling into the categories listed above (see Table 79).

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. Throughout 2009–10 in Parramatta, 31 percent of detainees were classified as most serious violent offenders, having at least one violent offence recorded on their charge sheet. Of the remaining 69 percent, 25 percent were property offenders, 10 percent were breach offenders, seven percent were road and traffic offenders, five percent were disorder offenders, five percent were drink driving offenders and three percent were drug offenders. A further 13 percent were recorded as ‘other offenders’ not otherwise falling into the categories listed above (see Table 79). Overall, the proportion of detainees in the offence classifications for 2009–10 has remained consistent compared with earlier years.

Between 2009 and 2010, a number of notable changes occurred in the proportions of detainees charged with an offence. The most notable difference was an 11 percentage point decrease in the proportion charged with a property offence (30% in 2009 cf 19% in 2010). Other changes included a five percentage point increase in the proportion of detainees charged as drug offenders in 2010 (1% cf 6% in 2010) and a nine percentage point increase in the proportion of detainees charged as s breach offenders (7% cf 14%).

One in three male detainees was in custody for a violent offence (34%), with violence being the single largest offence type recorded, followed by property offences (24%), breach offences (10%) and road and traffic offences (7%). Female detainees were less likely than males to be detained for a violent offence (19%) and more likely to be detained for a property (31%) or a breach offence (13%).

Prior criminal justice contact

For half of the Parramatta 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 80). However, there was a small difference between 2009 and 2010 in the proportion of detainees reporting a recent history of arrest, with a decline of four percentage points throughout the two-year period (52% cf 48% in 2010). Yet, overall, there was no notable change in the proportion of detainees with a recent history of arrest when compared with earlier years. Female detainees were more likely than male detainees to have been previously charged (56% cf 49%).

Fewer than one in five detainees in Parramatta (16%) had spent time in prison in the previous 12 months, with females being more likely than males to report a recent prison history (20% cf 16%). The proportion reporting a recent prison history was consistent throughout 2009–10 at 16 percent and remains relatively consistent when compared with earlier years.

Education, housing and employment

For nearly half of the Parramatta sample throughout 2009–10, Year 10 was the highest level of education attained (46%). Just over one-third (35%) had attempted or completed a post-secondary TAFE or university qualification. Overall, these results do not differ substantially compared with previous years; however, the results do differ for male and female detainees (see Table 81).

Female detainees were slightly less likely to have only completed education up to Year 10 (44% cf 47% for males) and were much more likely to have attempted or completed a post-secondary TAFE or university qualification (44% cf 34%). The most notable change among male detainees in 2010 was a modest decline in overall scholastic achievement (an increase of six percentage points in the proportion that had only completed up to Year 10) compared with the previous year. For female detainees, the most notable change in 2010 compared with the previous year was a 28 percentage point decrease in the proportion that attempted or completed a post-secondary TAFE or university qualification.

Nearly all detainees (88%) in 2009–10 reported most recently residing in a private residence (in the 30 days before their arrest). This figure was divided equally between those who lived in a privately owned or rented residence and those who lived in a residence owned or rented by someone else. A small number of detainees (3%) reported having no fixed address or living in emergency accommodation (see Table 81). Overall, there was no notable difference in the housing situation of detainees for 2009–10 when compared with earlier years.

One in four detainees (25%) in 2009–10 reported being in full-time employment at the time of their arrest, while 38 detainees (14%) were employed part-time. The remaining 169 detainees (61%) were not working at the time of their arrest and of these:

  • 66 (24%) were looking for work;
  • 34 (12%) were not looking for work;
  • 38 (14%) were not working either because they were on leave from work or due to illness, disability or the seasonal nature of their employment;
  • 15 (5%) were full-time homemakers; and
  • 16 (6%) were retired or studying (see Table 81).

There were a number of notable changes in detainees’ employment status between 2009 and 2010. For example, there was an 11 percentage point decrease in the proportion working full-time (31% in 2009 cf 20% in 2010). There was also a six percentage point increase in the proportion that reported being unemployed and looking for work in 2010 (21% cf 27% in 2010) and a five percentage point increase in the proportion that reported being disabled and unable to work (10% cf 15% in 2010). Overall, the level of full-time employment in 2010 was substantially lower than when compared with earlier years.

Male detainees in 2009–10 were more likely to be employed full-time or part-time (42%) than female detainees (23%), who were more likely to be unemployed and not looking for work (21% cf 10% for males) or not working because of their role as a full-time homemaker (21% cf 2%). There were some substantial changes in the employment status of detainees between 2009 and 2010. For male detainees, the proportion engaged in either full-time or part-time employment declined by 10 percentage points in 2010 (down to 37%). For females, the proportion that was disabled and unable to work increased five percentage points (up to 19%).

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 203 detainees who provided a urine sample throughout 2009 and 2010, 60 percent tested positive to at least one drug type: a notably lower level of drug use has been seen in recent years at Parramatta when compared with earlier years. The drug most commonly detected throughout the two-year period was cannabis (40%), followed by opiates (29%), benzodiazepines (25%), amphetamines (16%), methamphetamine (16%) and methadone (16%). Only nine detainees tested positive to cocaine across 2009 and 2010 (4%). Of those who tested positive to amphetamines, all were confirmed to have used methamphetamine (16%), while no detainees had used MDMA or another amphetamine type substance. Of those who tested positive to an opiate-based substance, 13 percent tested positive to heroin, 16 percent tested positive to methadone, six percent tested positive to buprenorphine and three percent tested positive to other opiate-based substances (see Table 82).

In 2009–10, female detainees were more likely than male detainees to test positive to amphetamines (19% cf 15%), opiates (31% cf 28%) and benzodiazepines (33% cf 23%). Male detainees were more likely to test positive to cannabis (41% cf 36%). The number of positive urinalysis results for 2010 was almost identical with the results for 2009, with 60 percent of detainees in both years testing positive to at least one drug. Test positive results for most categories of drug in 2010 varied from 2009: for example, there was a three percentage point increase in the number of positive cannabis tests (up to 41%), a 16 percentage point decline in the number of positive benzodiazepine tests (down to 18%), a two percentage point increase in amphetamines use (up to 17%) and a six percentage point increase in buprenorphine use (up to 9%). There was no noticeable change in the level of heroin use between 2009 and 2010 (13% 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. Overall, in 2009 and 2010, 33 percent of detainees reported drinking in the previous 48 hours (see Table 83), which is consistent when compared with previous years. Male detainees were substantially more likely than female detainees to have been drinking (35% cf 25%) and rates of recent alcohol consumption were relatively unchanged from 2009 to 2010.

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, 60 percent of detainees throughout 2009–10 had consumed at least one alcoholic drink in the 30 days before their arrest. On the last occasion of drinking, 32 percent of these detainees had consumed beer only, 10 percent had consumed wine only and 41 percent had consumed spirits only. It was not uncommon for detainees to have mixed different types of alcohol: the remaining 17 percent reported having 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 nine. Beer-only drinkers consumed an average of seven standard drinks, wine-only drinkers drank an average of eight standard drinks and spirit-only drinkers consumed an average of six standard drinks on the last occasion. Those who mixed drinks tended to have the highest consumption rate, at 22 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 wine, while males were more likely than females to drink beer or spirits. More than half of all female detainees who had consumed alcohol in the previous 30 days had consumed spirits only on the last occasion (60% cf 38% for males), whereas one in three males had consumed beer only (36% cf <1% for female detainees). The quantity of alcohol consumed on the last occasion was, on average, higher among males than females across all alcohol types except wine and spirits only (see Table 83).

Drug and alcohol treatment and mental health

In 2009–10, 29 detainees at Parramatta reported that they were in drug or alcohol treatment at the time of their arrest. This figure represents approximately 25 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 36 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 two (52%) had been referred by the courts or police or as a result of a legal order. The remaining half were either self-referred or referred by a health practitioner (see Table 84). Overall, treatment access generally remained stable between 2009 and 2010 and when compared with 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. Beginning 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 last 12 months). Overall, five detainees (8%) reported at least one overnight stay in a psychiatric unit and 71 detainees (37%) reported having been previously diagnosed with a mental health related issue (see Table 85).

Although the numbers are small, female detainees were slightly more likely than males to report an overnight stay in a psychiatric unit (11% cf 7%) and were also more likely to report having been previously diagnosed with a mental health related issue (43% cf 36%). 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 200 respondents who provided a urine sample in 2009–10 and were charged with an offence, 60 percent tested positive to at least one type of drug. The prevalence of recent drug use varied by most serious offence type, with drug offenders (88%) most likely to test positive to at least one drug type and drink driving offenders the least likely to test positive (22%). It should be noted that violent, property and breach offenders make up two-thirds of the sample. Test positive rates for other offenders were:

  • 59 percent for violent offenders;
  • 65 percent for property offenders;
  • 67 percent for breach offenders; and
  • 58 percent for disorder offenders (see Table 86).

Test positive rates varied by offence type across 2009 and 2010. For example, there was a 14 percentage point increase in the proportion of breach offenders testing positive to any drug in 2010 (57% cf 71%) and a six percentage point decrease in drug use for property offenders (68% cf 62% in 2010). The proportion of violent offenders testing positive to any drug remained consistent between 2009 and 2010. Overall, the proportion of violent offenders testing positive to any drug remains consistent compared earlier years, while the proportion of property offenders testing positive to any drug was substantially lower when compared with data from recent 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 nearly all cases throughout 2009–10, the drug most commonly used among detainees was cannabis, generally followed by opiates, then either benzodiazepines or amphetamines. Violent, property, drink driving, road and traffic, and breach offenders all had higher rates of opiate use than benzodiazepine use. Disorder offenders had equal levels of opiate and benzodiazepine use. Of the eight drug offenders, not one tested positive to any drug.

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. One-third of all respondents (31%) 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 (100%)—although it must be noted that the sample size was only eight detainees—followed by disorder (36%), property (34%), violent (27%), road and traffic (18%), and breach offenders (16%). No drug offenders identified any drug or alcohol as having contributed to their detention. Alcohol was more likely than other substances to be identified as a contributing factor by violent and drink driving offenders, whereas other substances such as heroin and amphetamines were more likely than alcohol to be implicated by property, road and traffic and breach offenders. Disorder offenders had equal levels of attribution for alcohol and drugs (see Table 86).

Table 78: Parramatta DUMA sample, by age and gender, 2009–10
MaleFemaleTotal
n%n%n%
Age
18–20 35 15 7 15 42 15
21–25 43 19 7 15 50 18
26–30 47 21 9 19 56 20
31–35 24 10 4 8 28 10
36+ 80 35 21 44 101 36
Total 229 48 277
Min/max age 18/75 18/60 18/75
Mean age (median) 32(29) 33(34) 32(30)

Note: Percentages may not total 100 due to rounding

Source: AIC DUMA collection 2010 [computer file]

Table 79: Parramatta 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 112 26 74 34 12 13 9 19 124 24 83 31
Property 108 25 52 24 32 36 15 31 140 27 67 25
Drug 24 6 9 4 0 0 0 0 24 5 9 3
Drink driving 12 3 12 5 2 2 2 4 14 3 14 5
Traffic 30 7 16 7 3 3 3 6 33 6 19 7
Disorder 47 11 11 5 5 6 3 6 52 10 14 5
Breach 43 10 21 10 10 11 6 13 53 10 27 10
Other 53 12 24 11 26 29 10 21 79 15 34 13
Total 429 219 90 48 519 267

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 80: Parramatta DUMA sample, by criminal history and gender, 2009–10a
MaleFemaleTotal
n%n%n%
Prior charge history (past 12 months)
Yes 95 49 24 56 119 50
No 99 51 19 44 118 50
Prior prison history (past 12 months)
Yes 33 16 9 20 42 16
No 178 84 36 80 214 84

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

Source: AIC DUMA collection 2010 [computer file]

Table 81: Parramatta DUMA sample, by education, housing, employment and gender, 2009–10a
MaleFemaleTotal
n%n%n%
Education
Year 10 or less 106 47 21 44 127 46
Year 11 or 12 43 19 6 13 49 18
TAFE/university not completed 31 14 8 17 39 14
Completed TAFE 37 16 8 17 45 16
Completed university 10 4 5 10 15 5
Total 227 48 275
Housing
Private house/apartment 97 42 26 52 123 44
Someone else’s place 103 45 20 40 123 44
Shelter or emergency 4 2 0 0 4 1
Incarceration facility/halfway house 7 3 0 0 7 3
Treatment facility 7 3 0 0 7 3
No fixed residence 3 1 1 2 4 1
Other 8 3 3 6 11 4
Total 229 50 279
Employment
Full-time 62 27 8 17 70 25
Part-time 35 15 3 6 38 14
Have job but out due to illness/leave/strike/disability/seasonal work 30 13 8 17 38 14
Looking for work 61 27 5 10 66 24
Not looking for work 24 10 10 21 34 12
Full-time homemakers 5 2 10 21 15 5
Retired or studying 12 5 4 8 16 6
Total 229 48 277

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 82: Parramatta DUMA sample, by urinalysis test results and gender, 2009–10
MaleFemaleTotal
n%n%n%
Provided urine
Yes 167 73 36 75 203 73
No 62 27 12 25 74 27
Test results
Cannabis 68 41 13 36 81 40
Cocaine 6 4 3 8 9 4
Methamphetamine 26 16 7 19 33 16
MDMA 0 0 0 0 0 0
Other amphetamines 0 0 0 0 0 0
(Any amphetamines)a (26) (16) (7) (19) (33) (16)
Heroin 22 13 4 11 26 13
Methadone 26 16 7 19 33 16
Buprenorphine 11 7 2 6 13 6
Other opiates 6 4 1 3 7 3
(Any opiate)b (47) (28) (11) (31) (58) (29)
Benzodiazepines 39 23 12 33 51 25
Any drug 99 59 23 64 122 60
Any drug other than cannabis 72 43 17 47 89 44
Multiple drugs 55 33 13 36 68 33

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 83: Parramatta DUMA sample, by self-reported alcohol use and gender, 2009–10
MaleFemaleTotal
n%n%n%
Alcohol use
Past 48 hoursa 79 35 12 25 91 33
Past 30 daysa, b 105 64 13 39 118 60
Alcohol type consumed on last drinking occasionb
Beer only 36 36 1 7 37 32
Wine only 7 7 5 33 12 10
Spirits only 38 38 9 60 47 41
Mixed drinksc 20 20 0 0 20 17
MaleFemaleTotal
nmean (median)nmean (median)nmean (median)
Quantities consumed on last drinking occasion (standard drinks)b
Beer only 36 7(5) 1 18(18) 37 7(5)
Wine only 7 5(4) 5 12(5) 12 8(5)
Spirits only 38 6(4) 9 6(5) 47 6(5)
Mixed drinksc 20 22(12) 0 0 20 22(12)

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 84: Parramatta DUMA sample, by drug and alcohol treatment and gender, 2009–10a, b
MaleFemaleTotal
n%n%n%
Treatment
Never been in treatment 47 47 5 29 52 44
Been in, but not currently in treatment 29 29 7 41 36 31
Currently in treatment 24 24 5 29 29 25
Treatment referral of those currently in treatment
Drug court requirement 7 29 0 0 7 24
Court diversion scheme 0 0 1 20 1 3
Police diversion scheme 0 0 0 0 0 0
Other legal order 7 29 0 0 7 24
Otherc 10 42 4 80 14 48

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 85: Parramatta 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 4 7 1 11 5 8
No 50 93 8 89 58 92
Ever been diagnosed or received treatment for depression, anxiety or any other mental health related issueb
Yes 56 36 15 43 71 37
No 99 64 20 57 119 63

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 86: Parramatta DUMA sample, by urinalysis test results and drug–crime attributions by most serious offending, 2009–10a
ViolentPropertyDrugbDrink drivingTrafficDisorderBreachOtherTotal
(n=61)%(n=49)%(n=8)%(n=9)%(n=15)%(n=12)%(n=24)%(n=22)%(n=200)%
Urinalysis results
Cannabis 28 46 17 35 7 0 1 11 4 27 4 33 10 42 8 36 79 40
Cocaine 4 7 2 4 0 0 0 0 1 7 1 8 0 0 1 5 9 5
Amphetaminesc 9 15 6 12 2 0 0 0 3 20 2 17 7 29 4 18 33 17
Opiatesd 18 30 23 47 2 0 1 11 4 27 1 8 6 25 2 9 57 29
Benzodiazepines 16 26 21 43 1 0 0 0 1 7 1 8 5 21 5 23 50 25
(Any drug) 36 59 32 65 7 0 2 22 8 53 7 58 16 67 12 55 120 60
(Any drug other than cannabis) 27 44 28 57 3 0 1 11 5 33 4 33 13 54 7 32 88 44
(Multiple drugs) 22 36 25 51 3 0 0 0 4 27 2 17 8 33 3 14 67 34
Self-reported drug–crime attributione, f
Alcohol 10 17 5 11 3 0 8 100 1 6 2 18 2 8 0 0 31 16
Other drugs 7 12 10 23 6 0 0 0 2 12 2 18 3 12 1 6 31 16
Any attribution 16 27 15 34 7 0 8 100 3 18 4 36 4 16 1 6 58 31

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

b: No detainee tested positive to a drug or attributed either alcohol or drugs to their offence

c: Includes methamphetamine, MDMA and other amphetamines

d: Includes heroin, methadone, buprenorphine and other opiates

e: Data are from quarter 3 2009 onwards only

f: Missing data excluded from analysis

Note: Percentages may not total 100 due to rounding

Source: AIC DUMA collection 2010 [computer file]

Figure 20: Test positive trends, males by drug type, Parramatta 1999–2010 (%)a

 Test positive trends, males by drug type, Parramatta 1999–2010 (%)

a: Data was not collected at this site during quarter 1 and 3, 2009 and 2010

Source: AIC DUMA collection 2010 [computer file]

Figure 21: Test positive trends, females by drug type, Parramatta 1999–2010 (%)a

 Test positive trends, females by drug type, Parramatta 1999–2010 (%)

a: Data was not collected at this site during quarter 1 and 3, 2009 and 2010

Source: AIC DUMA collection 2010 [computer file]