The role of police in preventing and minimising illicit drug use and its harms


The objective of this research project was to increase the understanding of Australian police, at the policy, planning and operational levels, of ways in which they can contribute to the outcomes sought by the National Drug Strategy in the strategic areas of harm reduction and demand reduction. Four specific areas considered by the project are: preventing and minimising the impact of drug overdoses; encouraging safer illicit drug-use practice; encouraging entry into drug-treatment programs; and reducing the demand for illicit drugs (including those strategies aimed at reducing the uptake of illicit drugs). Supply reduction strategies were also investigated for their effect upon drug demand and harms. The project included a review of research literature and national consultations with police, the health sector, user representatives, criminologists and other key informants. This report discusses the findings from the literature review and consultations, on police strategies for preventing illicit drug use and minimising its harms; influences on the police in these activities; differences between jurisdictions; harm reduction and demand reduction outcomes; police strategies relevant to multiple areas of harm reduction and demand reduction; and work with minority populations.