Illicit drug use is associated with a range of harms to individuals, families and the wider community, and is a direct cause of death and disability. In addition, drug use has a well established relationship to crime. Illicit drug related crime costs the Australian community billions of dollars each year in terms of expenses to police, criminal courts, prisons, property, insurance administration, violence and loss of life.
Developing and integrating databases in the health and law enforcement areas in Western Australia enables a clearer understanding of the interaction between drug use trends and their relationship to crime. Combining data from different sources in this way has a range of potential uses including forecasting possible changes and developments in crime likely to occur in the future. In addition, this information can be used for strategic policy development, for planning and resource allocation for both WA Police and alcohol and drug services, and for identifying demands for crime prevention resources.
In 2009 a single database was created containing de-identified, aggregated data relating to indicators of opiate, amphetamine and cannabis use, drug-related harms, and crime (e.g. data from Western Australian Police, Drug Use Monitoring in Australia, Emergency Department Information System, Coroner's Court of Western Australia, and the Alcohol and Drug Information Service). This database was used to determine associations between the different indicators of drug use, drug-related harm and crime, and to describe up-to-date drug and crime trends in Western Australia.
The results of this study will be presented and potential uses of the findings will be discussed.