Australian Institute of Criminology

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Darwin

Sample

In 2011–12, 761 detainees were interviewed at the Darwin police watchhouse. The average age of detainees was 32 years and 89 percent of detainees were male. On average, female detainees were one year older than male detainees (33 years cf 32 years; see Table 42).

From 2011 to 2012, the number of detainees surveyed increased by 11 percent, although this increase was not equal for male and female detainees. From 2011 to 2012, the number of female detainees surveyed increased by five percent, while the number of male detainees surveyed increased by 12 percent. This represented an increase in the number of detainees surveyed compared with previous years (290 detainees surveyed in 2008, 360 in 2011 and 401 in 2012).

From 2011 to 2012, the average age of Darwin detainees decreased modestly from 33 years to 32 years. By gender, the average age of female detainees increased by one year (32 years cf 33 years), whereas the average age of males decreased by one year (33 years cf 32 years).

Offending

In 2011–12, Darwin detainees were arrested and detained for a total of 1,696 charges. Consistent with previous years, the average number of charges per detainee was two. In 2011–12, charges for violent offences were those most commonly recorded among the Darwin sample, comprising 22 percent of total charges. This was followed by breach offences (21%), traffic offences (12%), property offences (9%), disorder offences (8%), drink driving offences (7%) and drug offences (6%). A further 15 percent of charges were recorded as ‘other offences’ not otherwise falling into the categories listed above (see Table 43). Since the 2009–10 collection, breach charges increased by five percentage points (from 16%), drug charges increased by four percentage points (from 2%) and property charges decreased by three percentage points (from 12%).

To facilitate comparison between detainees, each detainee is categorised by the most serious offence for which they are being held under charge at the time of interview. In 2011–12, 39 percent of Darwin detainees were categorised as violent offenders (an increase of 6 percentage points from 2009–10), 21 percent as breach offenders, 13 percent as drink driving offenders, nine percent as property offenders, six percent as drug offenders, five percent as traffic offenders and six percent as disorder offenders. A further one percent were recorded as ‘other’ offenders not otherwise falling into the categories listed above (see Table 43).

From 2011 to 2012, there was a seven percentage point increase in detainees charged with a violent offence (34% cf 41%) and a three percentage point decrease in the percentage of detainees charged with a breach offence (22% cf 19%). When compared with 2009–10, in 2011–12, there was an increase in the percentage of violent offenders (33% cf 38%) and drug offenders (3% cf 7%), and a decrease in the percentage of disorder offenders (9% cf 6%).

In 2011–12, different patterns of offending were observed between males and females. Based on most serious offence categories, violent offences were the most frequently recorded for both males (39%) and females (29%). For male detainees, this was followed by breach (21%), drink driving (13%), property (9%) and drug offences (7%). For female detainees, the most prevalent offence categories after violent offences were breach (19%), drink driving (18%) and traffic offences (11%).

Prior criminal justice contact

In 2011–12, for almost one-third of Darwin detainees, the current episode of contact with police was not an isolated incident, with 29 percent having been charged on at least one separate occasion in the previous 12 months (see Table 44). The 2011–12 recidivism rate was substantially lower than that recorded in 2009–10 (55% cf 29%). By gender, in 2011–12, male detainees were more likely than females to have been charged on a separate occasion in the previous 12 months (30% cf 21%).

In 2011–12, almost one in five Darwin detainees (17%) reported having spent time in prison in the previous 12 months. This figure was lower than that observed in earlier years (down from 30% in 2006). In 2011–12, male detainees were more likely than female detainees to report a recent prison history (18% cf 10%; see Table 44).

Education, housing and employment

In 2011–12, there was a decline in the number of Darwin detainees reporting Year 10 as the highest level of education attained (54%). This decrease was largely driven by 2011 results, where the percentage of detainees having only attained Year 10 or less (50%) reached the lowest level since collection began in Darwin in 2006. Consistent with this rise in scholastic achievement, the percentage of Darwin detainees reporting having attempted or completed a post-secondary TAFE or university qualification also rose (30%).

By gender, from 2011 to 2012, there was a 14 percentage point increase in female detainees having attained Year 10 as their highest level of education (37% cf 51%). For males, there was an eight percentage point increase in attainment of Year 10 as their highest level of education (51% cf 59%) and a six percentage point decrease in males having attempted a post-secondary TAFE or university qualification (14% cf 8%). From 2009–10 to 2011–12, the percentage of female detainees who completed only Year 10 or less decreased by 28 percentage points (72% cf 44%).

The vast majority (92%) of Darwin detainees reported residing in stable accommodation (which was owned or rented either from a private owner or social housing, by them (60%) or someone else (33%)) for most of the time in the 30 days prior to their arrest. A small percentage of detainees (3%) reported having no fixed address or living in emergency accommodation (see Table 45). From 2011 to 2012, detainee housing data remained relatively stable and was comparable with that reported in previous periods.

Just over one in five detainees (21%) reported being in full-time employment at the time of their arrest, while five percent reported being in part-time employment (see Table 45). The remaining 568 detainees (74%) were not working at the time of their arrest and of these:

  • 30 percent were looking for work (n=231);
  • 20 percent were not looking for work (n=152);
  • 20 percent were not working either because they were on leave from work or due to illness, disability or the seasonal nature of their employment (n=155);
  • two percent were full-time homemakers (n=18); and
  • two percent were retired or studying (n=12).

From 2011 to 2012, the employment status of Darwin detainees was generally consistent except for a few modest variations. There was a three percentage point decrease in full-time employment (22% cf 19%) and a one percentage point increase in part-time employment (4% cf 5%), as well as a two percentage point increase in the percentage of detainees looking for work (29% cf 31%) and a three percentage point increase in the percentage of detainees not looking for work (18% cf 21%). The 2011–12 employment pattern is comparable with previous years.

In 2011–12, the percentage of male and female detainees employed on a full-time or part-time basis was identical (25%). By gender, male detainees were more likely than females to be looking for work (32% cf 19%) or not looking for work (20% cf 17%). Female detainees were more likely than males to be on leave from work due to illness, disability or the seasonal nature of their employment (27% cf 19%) or be full-time homemakers (11% cf 1%). Caution should be exercised when interpreting gender comparisons due to the overrepresentation of males in the sample.

From 2011 to 2012, there were a number of variations in the employment status of female detainees including a 13 percentage point decrease in the number of female detainees working full-time (22% cf 9%), a 14 percentage point increase in part-time work (2% cf 16%), a 12 percentage point decrease in homemakers (17% cf 5%) and a 15 percentage point increase in female detainees reporting not working due to disability (20% cf 35%). From 2011 to 2012, there were no substantial changes to the employment status of male detainees.

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 testing 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). In the 2011–12 collection period, the rate of urine collection was reduced compared with earlier collection periods; urine samples were collected for all four data collection quarters in 2011 and two out of the four data collection quarters in 2012.

Of the 280 detainees who provided a urine sample, 65 percent tested positive to at least one drug type (see Table 46); a 10 percent increase since 2009–10 (55%). This increase was driven largely by an increase in cannabis use (49% in 2009–10 cf 58% in 2011–12). In 2011–12, the most commonly detected drug among Darwin detainees was cannabis (58%). This was followed by benzodiazepines (9%), amphetamines (6%; including 5% methamphetamine and 1% MDMA—detainees can test positive to more than one substance) and opiates (5%; including 2% buprenorphine and 1% heroin—detainees can test positive to more than one substance). In 2011–12, it should be noted that no Darwin detainee tested positive to methadone or cocaine.

In 2011–12, male detainees were more likely than females to test positive to cannabis (59% cf 41%), whereas female detainees were more likely than males to test positive to benzodiazepines (18% cf 9%).

From 2011 to 2012, there was a four percentage point decrease in detainees testing positive to at least one drug type (67% cf 63%). This decrease was largely driven by an eight percentage point decrease in the test positive rate of benzodiazepine (12% cf 4%). When compared with periods prior to 2009–10, the proportion of detainees testing positive to at least one drug type was not notably different. From 2011 to 2012, there was a four percentage point decrease in the test positive rate of cannabis (59% cf 55%) and a six percentage point increase in the test positive rate of amphetamines (4% cf 10%)—this included a four percentage point increase in positive methamphetamine tests (4% cf 8%). From 2011 to 2012, for all other drug categories, the test positive rate remained relatively stable.

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 consumed alcohol in the 48 hours prior to their arrest. During 2011–12, 71 percent of Darwin detainees reported drinking alcohol in the 48 hours prior to their arrest (see Table 47). Rates of recent alcohol consumption were relatively consistent with earlier years. In 2011–12, male detainees were more likely than females to report having consumed alcohol in the 48 hours prior to their arrest (72% cf 63%). From 2011 to 2012, the proportion of detainees who reported having consumed alcohol in the 48 hours prior to their arrest remained relatively stable for male and female detainees.

Alcohol consumption patterns

In 2011–12, the majority (85%) of Darwin detainees reported consuming at least one alcoholic drink in the 30 days prior to their arrest (see Table 47). On the last occasion of drinking, one in three detainees reported consuming beer only (30%), while 20 percent reporting consuming spirits only and 17 percent reported consuming wine only, with the remaining 33 percent reporting consuming at least two types of alcohol (referred to in the discussion below as mixed drinks) on the last occasion.

By quantity, the average number of standard drinks consumed on the last occasion of drinking was 25, an increase in the reported average number of drinks since 2009–10 (18 standard drinks). On average, beer-only drinkers consumed 13 standard drinks, wine-only drinkers consumed 19 standard drinks and spirit-only drinkers consumed 13 standard drinks on the last occasion of drinking. Detainees who mixed drinks tended to have the highest consumption rate, at an average of 35 standard drinks on the last occasion (up from an average of 27 standard drinks in 2009–10). Although 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 and in some cases would have involved drinking sessions that lasted more than one day.

In 2011–12, differences between genders were seen in the type of alcohol consumed most recently by those who had consumed alcohol in the previous 30 days. One in three male detainees had consumed beer only on the last occasion (31% cf 21% for females), whereas 27 percent of female detainees consumed wine only (cf 16% for males) and 27 percent of female detainees spirits only (cf 19% for males). The quantity of alcohol consumed was relatively consistent between male and female detainees, with the exception of mixed drinks. Males who consumed mixed drinks reported consuming a higher number of standard drinks on the last drinking occasion than female mixed drinkers (36 standard drinks cf 26 standard drinks; see Table 47).

Drug and alcohol treatment and mental health

In 2011–12, 11 Darwin detainees reported that they were in drug or alcohol treatment at the time of their arrest. This figure represents approximately three percent of those who had used at least one illicit drug in the past 12 months and is only one percentage point higher than in 2009–10 (2%). Treatment options included support groups, counselling and pharmacotherapy. A further 176 detainees (42%) reported having been in a treatment program but were no longer in treatment at the time of their arrest. Of those detainees currently in treatment, 27 percent (n=3) were referred through a drug court, while the 73 percent (n=8) were either self-referred or referred by a health practitioner (see Table 48). From 2011 to 2012, the number of detainees reporting current treatment was comparable. The 2011–12 results represent a four percentage point decrease in detainees undergoing drug and alcohol treatment since the peak in treatment recorded in 2008 (7%).

Detainees were asked whether they had ever been diagnosed with depression, anxiety or any other mental health-related issue (ie not just in the previous 12 months). In 2011–12, 15 percent of detainees in Darwin reported having been diagnosed with a mental health-related issue (see Table 49), which is four percentage points lower than that reported in 2009–10 (19%). By gender, female detainees were more likely than males to report having been previously diagnosed with a mental health-related issue (27% cf 13%).

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 contributing factor in their most recent offending.

Of the 277 detainees who provided a urine sample, two-thirds (66%) tested positive to at least one type of drug (see Table 50). However, by most serious offence type, the percentage of detainees testing positive to at least one drug type varied. Test positive rates by most serious offence classification were:

  • 79 percent for drug offenders (n=11)
  • 77 percent for breach offenders (n=44);
  • 68 percent for disorder offenders (n=15);
  • 65 percent for property offenders (n=13);
  • 65 percent for traffic offenders (n=11);
  • 64 percent for violent offenders (n=69); and
  • 51 percent for drink driving offenders (n=19).

Caution should be exercised when making comparisons between offending categories and across collection periods due to the presence of small cell sizes. In addition, in 2012, substantial changes were made to the DUMA methodology with regards to urine collection, limiting comparability of findings with previous collection periods.

DUMA detainees are asked specific questions to identify the relationship between substance use and the commission of the offence(s) for which they are held in custody at the time of interview. In 2011–12, over half of total Darwin detainees (62%) reported that substance use contributed to their current offending. By most serious offence type, those detained for a drink driving offence had the highest level of combined drug/alcohol attribution (88%; n=91). Combined drug/alcohol attribution rates for other offence classifications were:

  • 67 percent for violent offenders (n=189);
  • 60 percent for drug offenders (n=31);
  • 55 percent for property offenders (n=36);
  • 55 percent for breach offenders (n=85);
  • 44 percent for disorder offenders (n=19); and
  • 23 percent for traffic offenders (n=19).

Alcohol was more likely than drug use to be identified as a contributing factor by violent, property, drink driving, traffic, disorder and breach offenders (see Table 50).

Table 42 Darwin DUMA sample, by age and gender, 2011–12
Male Female Total
n % n % n %
Age (yrs)
18–20 68 10 8 10 76 10
21–25 131 19 26 31 157 21
26–30 136 20 4 5 140 18
31–35 117 17 9 11 126 17
36+ 225 33 37 44 262 34
Total 677 84 761
Min/max age 18/81 18/53 18/81
Mean age (median) 32(31) 33(32) 32(31)

Note: Percentages may not total 100 due to rounding

Source: AIC DUMA collection 2012 [computer file]

Table 43 Darwin DUMA sample, by offence and gender, 2011–12a
Male Female Total
Charges Detainees most serious offence Charges Detainees most serious offence Charges Detainees most serious offence
Charges recorded n % n % n % n % n % n %
Violent 354 23 260 39 27 15 24 29 381 22 284 38
Property 133 9 58 9 13 7 8 10 146 9 66 9
Drug 87 6 44 7 18 10 8 10 105 6 52 7
Drink driving 110 7 89 13 17 10 15 18 127 7 104 14
Traffic 173 11 35 5 32 18 9 11 205 12 44 6
Disorder 117 8 39 6 12 7 4 5 129 8 43 6
Breach 326 21 138 21 28 16 16 19 354 21 154 20
Other 218 14 6 1 31 17 0 0 249 15 6 1
Total 1,518 669 178 84 1,696 753

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 2012 [computer file]

Table 44 Darwin DUMA sample, by criminal history and gender, 2011–12a
Male Female Total
n % n % n %
Prior charge history (past 12 months)
Yes 191 30 17 21 208 29
No 449 70 64 79 513 71
Prior prison history (past 12 months)
Yes 117 18 8 10 125 17
No 543 82 75 90 618 83

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

Source: AIC DUMA collection 2012 [computer file]

Table 45 Darwin DUMA sample, by education, housing, employment and gender, 2011–12a
Male Female Total
n % n % n %
Education
Year 10 or less 372 55 37 44 409 54
Year 11 or 12 104 15 16 19 120 16
TAFE/university not completed 72 11 12 14 84 11
Completed TAFE 114 17 14 17 128 17
Completed university 12 2 5 6 17 2
Total 674 84 758
Housing
Owned or rented by self 194 31 31 43 225 33
Someone else’s place 380 62 35 49 415 60
Shelter or emergency 6 1 1 1 7 1
Incarceration facility/halfway house 6 1 0 0 6 1
Treatment facility 1 0 0 0 1 0
No fixed residence 13 2 1 1 14 2
Other 17 3 4 6 21 3
Total 617 72 689
Employment
Full-time 144 21 13 15 157 21
Part-time 28 4 8 10 36 5
Have job but out due to illness/leave/strike/disability/seasonal work 132 19 23 27 155 20
Looking for work 215 32 16 19 231 30
Not looking for work 138 20 14 17 152 20
Full-time homemakers 9 1 9 11 18 2
Retired or studying 11 2 1 1 12 2
Total 677 84 761

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 2012 [computer file]

Table 46 Darwin DUMA sample, by urinalysis test results and gender, 2011–12
Male Female Total
n % n % n %
Provided urinea
Yes 258 52 22 33 280 50
No 237 48 45 67 282 50
Test results
Cannabis 152 59 9 41 161 58
Cocaine 0 0 0 0 0 0
Amphetaminesb 16 6 1 5 17 6
Methamphetamine 14 5 0 0 14 5
MDMA 1 0 1 5 2 1
Other amphetamines 2 1 0 0 2 1
Opiatesc 12 5 1 5 13 5
Heroin 4 2 0 0 4 1
Methadone 0 0 0 0 0 0
Buprenorphine 5 2 1 5 6 2
Other opiates 6 2 0 0 6 2
Benzodiazepines 22 9 4 18 26 9
Any drug 170 66 13 59 183 65
Any drug other than cannabis 45 17 5 23 50 18
Multiple drugs 28 11 2 9 30 11

a: These percentages have been calculated for the quarters in which urine samples were requested, which in 2011 was all 4 quarters and in 2012 was 2 out of 4 quarters

b: Includes methamphetamine, MDMA and other amphetamines

c: Includes heroin, methadone, buprenorphine and other opiates

Source: AIC DUMA collection 2012 [computer file]

Table 47 Darwin DUMA sample, by self-reported alcohol use and gender, 2011–12
Male Female Total
n % n % n %
Alcohol use
Past 48 hoursa 484 72 53 63 537 71
Past 30 days 571 86 64 78 635 85
Alcohol type consumed on last drinking occasion
Beer only 181 31 14 21 195 30
Wine only 91 16 18 27 109 17
Spirits only 109 19 18 27 127 20
Mixed drinksb 197 34 16 24 213 33
Male Female Total
n mean (median) n mean (median) n mean (median)
Quantities consumed on last drinking occasion (standard drinks)
Beer only 180 13(11) 14 15(9) 194 13(11)
Wine only 91 19(15) 18 20(15) 109 19(15)
Spirits only 108 13(11) 18 13(10) 126 13(10)
Mixed drinksb 197 36(30) 16 26(27) 213 35(30)

a: Only if consumed alcohol in the past 30 days

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

Source: AIC DUMA collection 2012 [computer file]

Table 48 Darwin DUMA sample, by drug and alcohol treatment and gender, 2011–12a,b
Male Female Total
n % n % n %
Treatment
Never been in treatment 209 56 24 52 233 55
Been in, but not currently in treatment 154 41 22 48 176 42
Currently in treatment 11 3 0 0 11 3
Treatment referral of those currently in treatment
Drug court requirement 3 27 0 0 3 27
Court diversion scheme 0 0 0 0 0 0
Police diversion scheme 0 0 0 0 0 0
Other legal order 0 0 0 0 0 0
Otherc 8 73 0 0 8 73

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 2012 [computer file]

Table 49 Darwin DUMA sample, by mental health and gender, 2011–12a
Male Female Total
n % n % n %
Ever been diagnosed or received treatment for depression, anxiety or any other mental health-related issueb
Yes 88 13 22 27 110 15
No 571 87 61 73 632 85

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

b: Includes developmental, somatoform, dissociative, sexual or gender identity, paraphilia, eating or adjustment disorders

Source: AIC DUMA collection 2012 [computer file]

Table 50 Darwin DUMA sample, by urinalysis test results and drug–crime attributions by most serious offending, 2011–12a
Violent Property Drug Drink driving Traffic Disorder Breach Other Total
n % n % n % n % n % n % n % n % n %
Urinalysis results
Cannabis 68 63 11 55 9 64 14 38 10 59 12 55 36 63 1 50 161 58
Cocaine 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Amphetaminesb 3 3 1 5 4 29 4 11 1 6 1 5 3 5 0 0 17 6
Opiatesc 2 2 2 10 0 0 1 3 1 6 2 9 5 9 0 0 13 5
Benzodiazepines 7 6 1 5 2 14 4 11 2 12 2 9 8 14 0 0 26 9
(Any drug) 69 64 13 65 11 79 19 51 11 65 15 68 44 77 1 50 183 66
(Any drug other than cannabis) 11 10 4 20 5 36 8 22 3 18 5 23 14 25 0 0 50 18
(Multiple drugs) 10 9 2 10 4 29 4 11 2 12 2 9 6 11 0 0 30 11
(Total urine samples) 108 20 14 37 17 22 57 2 277
Self-reported drug–crime attributiond
Alcohol 176 62 27 41 6 12 91 88 9 20 18 42 81 53 6 0 414 55
Other drugs 24 8 13 20 25 48 3 3 1 2 2 5 6 4 1 0 75 10
Any attribution 189 67 36 55 31 60 91 88 10 23 19 44 85 55 6 0 467 62
(Total detainees interviewed) 284 66 52 104 44 43 154 6 753

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: Missing data excluded from analysis

Note: Percentages may not total 100 due to rounding

Source: AIC DUMA collection 2012 [computer file]

Figure 12 Test positive trends, males by drug type, Darwin, 2006–12 (%)

Figure 12 Test positive trends, males by drug type, Darwin, 2006–12 (%)

Note: Data was not collected at this site during quarters 1 and 2, 2007 and quarters 2 and 4, 2012

Source: AIC DUMA collection 2012 [computer file]

Figure 13 Test positive trends, females by drug type, Darwin, 2006–12 (%)

Figure 13 Test positive trends, females by drug type, Darwin, 2006–12 (%)

Note: Data was not collected at this site during quarters 1 and 2, 2007 and quarters 2 and 4, 2012

Source: AIC DUMA collection 2012 [computer file]