About the DUMA program

About the Drug Use Monitoring in Australia program

Established in 1999, the Drug Use Monitoring in Australia (DUMA) program is a quarterly collection of criminal justice and drug use information from police detainees at multiple sites (watch houses or police stations) across Australia. The DUMA program is the only Australian survey of police detainees conducted on a routine basis. Assessing the drug use and offending habits of police detainees is valuable in the formulation of policy and programs. The police detainee population is more likely to have had close and recent contact with the illicit drug market than non-detainees and incarcerated offenders.

Data collection

Data collection comprises two core components:

  • a self-report survey which collects a range of criminal justice contact, demographic, and drug use, drug attribution and drug market participation information; and
  • voluntary urinalysis, which serves as an objective measure for corroborating self-reported recent drug use within 48 hours prior to arrest.

Access to detainees is facilitated by police officers in charge of the watch house or police stations, or their delegate. The police custody manager determines whether a detainee is eligible to participate in a DUMA interview. Detainees are deemed eligible to participate if they:

  • have been in police custody for less than 96 hours;
  • were not in a custodial setting 48 hours prior to arrest;
  • are deemed safe to interview by watch house staff (i.e. they are not highly intoxicated, potentially violent or mentally unfit);
  • do not require an interpreter; and
  • are able to understand and give consent to participate in the survey.

Detainees who are eligible and are willing to participate in the DUMA study are informed about the voluntary and confidential nature of the interview. They are asked to provide verbal consent to both participate in the interview and provide a urine sample (during relevant collection periods).

Urinalysis

During relevant collection periods, detainees are asked to provide a urine sample at the end of the interview. Eligibility to provide a urine sample is dependent on the length of time a detainee has spent time in custody. Where a detainee has been in a custodial setting for less than 48 hours they are eligible to provide a urine sample as the majority of drugs have limited detection time in urine (see Table 1).

Table 1: Cut off levels and drug detection times
Drug class Cut off AS4308 (μg/L) Average detection timea
Amphetamines 300 2–4 days
Benzodiazepines (hydrolysed) 200 2–14 days
Cannabis 50 Up to 30 days for heavy use 2–10 days for casual use
Cocaine 300 24–36 hours
Methadone 300 2–4 days
Opiates 300 2–3 days
Buprenorphine 5 2–7 days

a: Depends on testing method and equipment, the presence of other drugs, level of drug present and frequency of use

Source: Makkai 2000; Australian Standard AS/NZS 4308-2008

Provision of a urine sample is voluntary. Where a detainee is eligible and agrees to provide a urine sample, they are given a urine pot and escorted to an appropriate location to provide the sample. This is returned to the interviewer and the detainee is then escorted back to their cell. Urine samples are given a unique barcode, frozen and sent to the NSW Forensic & Analytical Science Service (NSW FASS) for testing. The NSW FASS are accredited to Australian Standard AS/NZS 4308:2008. Urinalysis results are provided to the Australian Institute of Criminology in electronic format. All urine samples are destroyed by the NSW FASS once the AIC receives and validates the results.

Methodological considerations

  • DUMA data presented throughout the Crime Statistics Australia website is based on data from four long-term sites - Adelaide, Bankstown, Brisbane and Perth.
  • Males are over-represented in the DUMA detainee sample. These proportions are consistent with the population from which the sample was derived, with police processing fewer female detainees than males. As there is a smaller number of females in the sample, caution should be taken when interpreting the results or making gender-based comparisons.
  • Sample sizes may vary across the analysis due to instances where detainees were unable or unwilling to respond to survey items. To preserve the largest sample size possible, detainees were only excluded from analysis for variables in which data were missing.
  • Pre-2013, Bankstown data collection occurred every quarter. From 2013, Bankstown data collection occurred in the fourth quarter of 2013, and the second and fourth quarters of 2014, 2015 and 2016.
  • In 2013, the self-report item for methamphetamine changed from asking detainees whether they had used 'amphetamine/speed/methamphetamine' to whether they had used 'methamphetamine/speed/ice'.
  • In 2013, data was only collected in the third and fourth quarters.
  • The number of standard drinks consumed by detainees is based on conversion figures consistent with those used by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare's National Drug Strategy Household Survey (AIHW 2013).

AIC research

Trends and Issues in Crime and Criminal Justice

Statistical Reports

Research Reports

Statistical Bulletins