The Facts - Enforcement Costs

Australian Drug Law Enforcement - the cost

There were 93,148 arrests for prohibited drugs in Australia in 2011-12, taking $389million out of the police budget.

 Most of Australian drug arrests were for cannabis around 61,011, or 65% of drug arrests. Around 80% of those were for possession.

Australian Drug Law Enforcement - the cost

  • There were 93,148 arrests for prohibited drugs in Australia in 2011-12, taking $389million out of the police budget.

  • Most of Australian drug arrests were for cannabis around 61,011, or 65% of drug arrests. Around 80% of those were for possession.

  • In 2010, 10,651 of the 17,757 reported sexual assaults were not finalised after 30 days.  There are a great number of crimes with victims in Australia that are not solved due to a lack of resources.

  • Illicit drug offences made up 20% of higher court matters (courts above Magistrates court), the cost being $56million. Around 6% of matters in the Magistrates Courts are illicit drug offences, but when you remove traffic offences this doubles to around 12%, costing $22million. All Australian jurisdictions employ prosecutors to work with police to bring drug cases to court, costing $41million, and for government funded Legal Aid defence lawyers to defend those cases, $34million.

  • Around 3,600 prisoners are doing time for drug crime - 12% of prisoners.This costs us $220million, with an additional $20million for community corrections.

  • The Australian Customs and Border Protection Service’s drug search activity costs  $157 million. Police and customs are aided by $20million research funding into drug law enforcement, such as from the Australian Crime Commission.

  • The total cost of drug law enforcement is around $1.1billion, not counting drug related crime which is unquantifiable.

  • As a rough rule, for every $1 spent on enforcement, there is a transfer of value into the black market of $10.


References

Illicit Drug Data Report (ACC) 2011-12

Drug Policy Modelling Program 2013  (All costs data)

Crime and Justice :  1301.0 - Year Book Australia, 2012

4512.0 - Corrective Services, Australia, March Quarter 2013  - ABS and the Prisoner Census

Estimating the size and value of Australia’s market for illegal drugs and its potential for taxation under a regulated market (2013) Dr John Jiggens


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  • commented 2014-10-08 18:21:13 +1100
    Isn’t it just crazy how much money the police is costing our nation for these arrests instead of actually fixing the problem from its roots. $389 million in just one year is just insane and it needs to stop. This blog post gave me such insight into how much money is actually going into Australian Drug Law Enforcement. I was gobsmacked to learn that the total cost of drug law enforcement is approximately $1.1 billion. We clearly need to make a change to a more effective and humane approach to reducing the harm of drugs in our country. This happens with drug law reform so keep up the good work! We support you 100%.