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4 August 2016

New highs for illicit drug seizures and arrests

Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission

The number of national illicit drug seizures and arrests has reached new highs, according to a report released today by the Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission (ACIC).

In the 2014–15 financial year Australian law enforcement agencies made a record 105,862 national illicit drug seizures, weighing a total of 23.5 tonnes, with a record 133,926 national illicit drug arrests.

The Illicit Drug Data Report 2014–15 (IDDR) is a statistical report which provides governments, law enforcement agencies and policy makers with a robust picture of the Australian illicit drug market. It pulls together data from all state and territory police agencies, the Australian Federal Police, the Department of Immigration and Border Protection/Australian Border Force and forensic laboratories.

Minister for Justice, the Hon. Michael Keenan MP launched the report alongside ACIC Chief Executive Officer, Mr Chris Dawson, in Adelaide.

“This year, for the first time, the IDDR includes data from wastewater analysis,” Mr Dawson said.

“Wastewater analysis is recognised internationally and increasingly in Australia, as being the most effective, and arguably the only objective means of reliably measuring the level of use of a number of prominent illicit drugs.”

The agency recently received $3.6 million from Proceeds of Crime funding over a three year period to fund a national pilot wastewater analysis program. This program will provide leading-edge, coordinated national research and intelligence on illicit drugs, with a specific focus on methylamphetamine.

“The data obtained from wastewater analysis will provide law enforcement, policy, regulatory and health agencies with additional and more objective data in relation to the usage of methylamphetamine and other drugs,” Mr Dawson said.

“While illicit drug statistics do fluctuate from year to year, when looking at the last decade of statistics, the number and weight of national seizures, as well as the number of national illicit drug arrests have dramatically increased.”

“Australian law enforcement is disrupting more criminals and seizing more illicit drugs than ever before.”

“The statistics in the IDDR will inform prioritisation and decision-making to help protect Australia and minimise the threat, harm and destruction caused by illicit drugs,” Mr Dawson said.

The Illicit Drug Data Report 2014–15 is available online.

Key findings from Illicit Drug Data Report 2014–15

The number of national illicit drug seizures increased 13.7 per cent, from 93,086 in 2013–14 to a record 105,862 in 2014–15.

The weight of illicit drugs seized nationally decreased 13.9 per cent, from 27.3 tonnes in 2013–14 to 23.5 tonnes in 2014–15.

The number of national illicit drug arrests increased 19.5 per cent, from 112,049 in 2013–14 to a record 133,926 in 2014–15.

  • With the exception of other and unknown, not elsewhere classified drugs[1], the number of national illicit drug seizures increased across all illicit drug categories.
  • For a second time in the last decade, ATS accounted for the greatest proportion of the weight of illicit drugs seized nationally in 2014–15.
  • The number of national illicit drug arrests increased across all illicit drug categories in 2014–15.
  • The threat posed by Amphetamine Type Stimulants (ATS) remains high, with national seizures and arrests associated with these drugs the highest on record.
  • Cannabis and other and unknown, not elsewhere classified drugs were the only two illicit drug categories to report a decrease in the weight of drugs seized nationally in 2014–15, decreasing 15.1 per cent and 81.8 per cent[2] respectively.
  • For the first time the IDDR contains wastewater data on methylamphetamine, MDMA and cocaine, with reporting indicating that methylamphetamine use in the community has been increasing since 2009–10.
  • Although the proportion of national arrests related to cannabis has decreased in recent years, cannabis continues to account for the greatest proportion of national illicit drug arrests.
  • In 2014–15, the weight of national other opioid seizures increased 2,417.1 per cent, with a record 740 kilograms seized.
  • The 667 clandestine laboratories detected nationally in 2014–15 is the lowest number reported since 2008–09.

[1] Data for national other and unknown not elsewhere classified (NEC) drug seizures and arrests capture those drugs and substances outside the specific drug categories contained in the IDDR. This category covers a range of substances including precursors, anaesthetics, new psychoactive substances, pharmaceuticals and drugs not elsewhere classified.

[2] The considerable decrease in the weight of drugs seized within this category is largely due to a single 10 tonne seizure of benzaldehyde in 2013–14.

Last updated
4 August 2016