Police seizures have little impact on methamphetamine market, AIC report

An increasing number of methamphetamine seizures have had little impact on market supply or availability, according to an Australian Institute of Criminology report.

The report, which was released on Thursday, surveyed 375 methamphetamine users across Australia and is the first detailed study of how a reduced drug supply may affect consumption habits among police detainees.

More than 30 per cent of detainees reported an increase in the supply of methamphetamine in the previous three months, while only 14 per cent said the drug had become harder to find.

"A significant proportion of detainees reported never experiencing a shortage of methamphetamine," the report said.

"This indicates that methamphetamine has remained readily available across Australia, despite an increased number of seizures by law enforcement."

According to the Australian Crime Commission, police seized 21,056 amphetamine-type stimulants during 2012/13 which represented 24.2 per cent of seizures, second only to cannabis.


The number of clandestine laboratories detected was the second highest on record, having more than doubled over the last 10 years, with the majority producing amphetamines.

Of the 375 detainees who supplied a urine sample, 33 per cent tested positive for methamphetamine use which was 10 per cent more than 2012 figures and 21 per cent more than in 2009.

Detainees reported little recent fluctuation in the methamphetamine market across Australia despite police seizures, with the drug readily available.

However, the report said "over 30 per cent of detainees reported an increase in the price of methamphetamine in the last three months".

"It is not clear whether law enforcement efforts could produce a substantial methamphetamine shortage, such as that seen for heroin, as the methamphetamine supply is supported by both domestic production and importation.

"Detainee reports on the current state of the methamphetamine market indicated that across Australia, there had been little movement in methamphetamine availability in the three months prior to interview."

But the report also found there was some evidence that government policy and policing efforts are having an impact on supply.

"Of those methamphetamine-using detainees who did report experiencing a period of reduced availability, the majority reported that during that period they either abstained from using methamphetamines, without increasing their use of alcohol or other drugs," the report said.

"In this way, reducing methamphetamine supply appears to be effective in terms of harm minimization."

In Canberra, a dramatic spike in addiction to ice and amphetamine has led to a 155 per cent increase people seeking treatment from specialists amid mental health problems and unpredictable violence.

According to The Salvation Army, the number of people seeking assistance after using the drugs has more than doubled since 2010 with 28 per cent of their clients now admitting to using the dangerous drugs.

In the past year alone, the number of amphetamine and ice users seeking help from the Salvation Army in Canberra has increased by 28 per cent.

Cannabis remained the most common illicit drug among Australian detainees with 51 per cent testing positive, while 38 per cent of detainees tested positive to two or more drugs.