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Link between amphetamines and violent crime questioned

Monday, 18 June 2012

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Amphetamine users are more likely to commit non-violent crimes, a new study by ECU researchers has found.

Amphetamine use is associated with psychological, physical and social harm, criminal behaviour and violence.

ECU researchers working as part of the Drug Use Monitoring in Australia program (DUMA) analysed data collected over the past 11 years to see if there was an identifiable link between amphetamine use and violent crime to build and compare a profile of detained amphetamine users against non-users.

Lecturer and WA DUMA site manager, Ms Natalie Gately said that there was a perception in the community that violent crime and the use of this type of drug was linked.

“Our project differs from others as it was specifically designed to explore the relationship between amphetamine use and the crimes committed by detainees who have used this drug,” Ms Gately said.

“With WA having the highest prevalence of amphetamine use in Australia, we wanted to identify the types of crimes users were being detained for and who they were.”

 “We found users of this substance were more likely to commit opportunistic and monetary types of crime, such as property, robbery and weapon offences than other users of drugs,” Ms Gately said.

“However, we found no clear evidence to link amphetamine use to violent crimes; this is not to say that some users do not become violent, but the majority had not been detained for violent offences,” Ms Gately said.

The user profile highlighted that there was a higher proportion of females, non-Indigenous aged between 24-28 years who were unemployed and single with no dependent children compared with detainees who did not use amphetamines.

“The profile we built suggested that failure to reduce the amphetamine use in WA may have financial ramifications on health services, financial benefit agencies and the increase in unemployment,” Ms Gately said.  

“We also found that the crimes committed by amphetamine users tended to be more opportunistic and potentially preventable.”

“This study will add to the body of knowledge Australia-wide and help to address the implications amphetamine use has on government, health and community organisations.”

For a full copy of the report visit www.aic.gov.au

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