Problem-oriented policing: operation mantle - a case study


Rates of illicit drug use and drug-related crime have been on an upward trajectory in Australia for at least the last two decades. As demand for illicit drugs has grown, so too has the number, scale and operation of illicit drug markets. A relatively recent phenomenon is the proliferation and high visibility of street drug markets, with apparent increases in social disorder and drug-related crime in surrounding communities. These markets are operated by low- to mid-level drug dealers. In 1998 and 1999, in an attempt to reduce the impact of drug-related crime in Adelaide, the South Australia Police targeted low- to mid-level dealers in a “problem-oriented policing” operation. Problem-oriented policing is a systematic, intelligence-driven approach to an identified crime or disorder problem. The present study indicates that the operation, named Operation Mantle, was successful in arresting the “ever onwards and upwards” rates of drug-specific and drug-related crime. Across a range of drug-specific and drug-related offences reported or becoming known to police, rates tended to stabilise.