Amphetamine use among detainees at the East Perth watch house: what is the impact on crime?

Criminology Research Grant: CRG 50/09-10

Amphetamines have been increasingly available on the Australian drug markets since the early 1990s with a recent increase in clandestine laboratory detections as well as seizures by the Australian Federal Police (AFP) and Customs. The present study compared data from the Western Australian (WA) arm of the Drug Use Monitoring in Australia (DUMA) project from 1999 to 2009 with statistics on reported crime and drug seizures in WA. The DUMA dataset yielded a total of 6993 usable cases which were categorised by self-reported use in the preceding 30 days and amphetamine positive urinalysis as offending amphetamine users or non-users. Self-reported indicators of amphetamine use were moderately to strongly correlated with objective indicators of use. Detainees self-reported amphetamine use was also associated with crimes against property and drug-related crime, whereas detained amphetamine non-users were more likely to commit public order offences, sexual offences and abduction/harassment related offences. The profile of amphetamine using offenders did not differ considerably to the overall detainee population, however relative to amphetamine non-users, amphetamine users generally were more likely to be non-Indigenous, female, single, less educated, unemployed, first arrested prior to 18 years of age, previously have used a range of other illicit drugs, and consume less alcohol. Overall, all indicators of amphetamine use pointed to a slight general downward trend in amphetamine consumption since 2000, prior to which there was a general upward trend. A moderate correlation was found between amphetamine seizures and self-reported amphetamine use at a three-quarterly time lag. Overall it was recommended that similar research is conducted in other Australian states in order to make national comparisons. It was also recommended that greater resources are put into amphetamine supply reduction through increases in police operations targeting clandestine laboratories and general drug seizures. Reducing the supply of amphetamines may sequentially decrease the proportion of property offences committed in Western Australia.