Academic journal article Trends & Issues in Crime and Criminal Justice

Amphetamine Users and Crime in Western Australia, 1999-2009

Academic journal article Trends & Issues in Crime and Criminal Justice

Amphetamine Users and Crime in Western Australia, 1999-2009

Article excerpt

Amphetamines have been increasingly available on Australian drug markets since the early 1990s (National Drug Research Institute 2007). Clandestine laboratory detections increased from 50 in 1996 to 250 in 2002 (Ministerial Council on Drugs Strategy 2004), although use decreased slightly in the general population between 2004 (3.2%) and 2007 (2.3%) (Australian Institute of Health and Welfare 2008). There has also been an increase in the amount of high-grade amphetamine detected by Customs and the Australian Federal Police (AFP). Amphetamine use has been associated with psychobgical, physical and social harm, criminal behaviour and violence (Dyer & Cruickshank 2005; Lynch, Kemp, Krenske, Conroy & Webster 2003; Wickes 1993). The Drug Use Monitoring in Australia (DUMA) project has collected data since 1999. This current study aims to examine the relationship between amphetamine use and crime among police detainees in Western Australia. Further, the study provides a brief profile of detainee amphetamine users and compares this with the profile of a non-user.

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The 2010 National Drug Strategy Household Survey (NDSHS) indicated that 7 percent of Australians aged 1 4 years and over had 'ever' used amphetamines/methamphetamines (AIHW 201 1). Use was most common in the 20-29 year old age group, with 5.9 percent reporting use in the 'preceding 12 months'. These figures made amphetamines the third most common illicit drug used in the Australian community in 2010, behind cannabis (10.3%) and ecstasy (3.0%) (AIHW 2011).

The Amphetamines in Queensland (AIQ) project examined the views and experiences of 665 amphetamine users in both rural and urban Queensland (Lynch, Kemp, Krenske, Conroy & Webster 2003). The most common types of amphetamine used were powder 05.2%) and base (72.3%), which were used at a younger age (1 8.5 and 19 years, respectively) compared with ice, amphetamine liquid and dexamphetamines (21 , 21 and 20 years, respectively) (Lynch et al. 2003). The majority of respondents (54.4%) described their use as 'recreational', whereas 20.8 percent reported being 'binge' users, and 13.3 percent described themselves as 'dependent' (Lynch et al. 2003). Dependent users were more likely than the general population to experience mental health problems that resulted in moderate to severe disability. (Lynch et al. 2003). Because the majority of amphetamine use began as a result of someone offering the drug to the participant (74%), initiation into amphetamine use appears opportunistic and potentially preventable through social education of the associated harms.

Of the Australian states and territories, Western Australia has the highest prevalence of amphetamine use (AIHW 2008). In 2007, 4.2 percent of Western Australians surveyed in the NDSHS had used amphetamines in the previous 12 months compared with 2.3 percent nationally (AIHW 2008). Data from the Drug Use Monitoring in Australia (DUMA) project show that the East Perth site in Western Australia also has the highest prevalence of amphetamine use among police detainees (35%) (Gaffney, Jones, Sweeney & Payne 2009). The other DUMA sites include Alice Springs and Darwin, which reported less than 2 percent of detainees testing positive for amphetamines, Bankstown (9%), Parramatta (1 6%), South Port (19%); Footscray (22%), Brisbane (23%) and Adelaide (28%).

To combat the high prevalence of amphetamines in Australia, the AttorneyGeneral's Department (AGD) funded in the 2003-04 budget the National Strategy to Prevent the Diversion of Precursor Chemicals into Illicit Drug Manufacture (AGD 2006). This strategy introduced an online recording system within Australian pharmacies ('Project STOP'), which aims to prevent the purchase of pseudoephedrine for the manufacture of methamphetamines. Pharmacists involved in the project record personal information from photographic identification provided when pseudoephedrine is purchased, as well as details about the quantity of drug sold. …

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