Criminal justice responses relating to personal possession of illicit drugs
Dr Caitlin Hughes
Australian criminal justice responses relating to personal use and possession of illicit drugs are subject to frequent public debate. However, there are systemic gaps in knowledge about how Australian drug laws are actually enforced: such as how many people actually end up in court for use and possession alone and how many are being diverted away from criminal sanction. This is an important omission as diversion, whereby offenders are diverted away from criminal justice sanction or into drug education/treatment, constitutes one of the core drug policy responses to illicit drug use and drug-related offending in Australia. Quantifying the national reach of Australian drug diversion programs is thus increasingly important.
This project sought to provide the first comprehensive analysis of Australian criminal justice responses relating to personal use and possession of illicit drugs and the reach of Australian drug diversion programs. The specific aims of the project were:
- To outline current Australian laws and approaches taken to illicit drug use and possession in each jurisdiction (including programs on alternatives to arrest).
- To assess the scale of criminal justice response to use/possession in Australia over the period 2010-11 to 2014-15, including the number of people detected, prosecuted and/or sentenced for use/possession, the number of people diverted away from criminal justice proceedings, and the populations that are most and least likely to receive a drug diversion by state/territory and demographic factors.
- To identify barriers and facilitators to the diversion of use/possess offenders in Australia (e.g. legal barriers, programmatic design, resourcing).
Read more on the NDARC website.