John D'Orazio

John D'Orazio

Former Minister for Police and Emergency Services; Justice; Community Safety

    Prison drug use continues to fall

    11/04/2006 3:30 PM

    There is more evidence that a concerted campaign to cut drug use in Western Australia’s prisons is working, with random tests suggesting that usage has halved in the past year.

    Justice Minister John D’Orazio said the results of a new, more reliable model for random testing appeared to confirm earlier data, showing a steady fall in the prevalence of drug use among prisoners.

    Mr D’Orazio said random testing using the model developed with assistance from the Australian Bureau of Statistics, showed the proportion of positive drug returns among WA prisoners dropped from 10 per cent in June 2005, to 4.5 per cent in January 2006.

    “Our prison staff and management are doing an excellent job, because keeping drugs out of prison is no easy matter,” he said

    “Stopping illegal drug use makes our jails safer for prison staff and may help some offenders break established habits.”

    The Minister said a range of strategies was helping reduce drug use.

    This included:
    • expanding drug detection dog teams from nine to 13 - the dog teams search prisoners, prison visitors and cells and are able to detect, drugs, drug implements and weapons;
    • increasing the use of both random and targeted testing, based on prisoner behaviour and on intelligence received - in total 7,136 tests were conducted in 2005, compared with 5,269 in 2004;
    • joint operations with police to identify possible drug couriers attending prison;
    • better drug education and new programs aimed at high-risk offenders; and
    • establishing drug-free units to support prisoners who want to remain drug-free and protect them from bullying or other pressures to participate in drug use.
    Mr D’Orazio said the new random drug-testing model involved taking urine samples from about 15 per cent of the total prison population, over a three-day period.

    The Minister said the tests identified the presence of drugs for which the prisoners had no prescription.

    “This gives us a snapshot of drug usage in our prisons and helps identify trends that the Department of Corrective Services should address,” he said.

    “These results are encouraging, but we will not be letting up in our efforts to keep drugs out of our prisons.”

    Minister's office: 9213 7150