An impact evaluation and economic evaluation of project STOP (third party policing)

Project Supporters:

Colonial Foundation Trust

Drug Type:
image - Stop Sign
Additional Project Members
Project Main Description

Project STOP” is an initiative of the Queensland branch of the Pharmacy Guild of Australia and the Queensland Police Service. In 2005 the QPS and Pharmacy Guild forged a partnership because they were concerned about the raft of problems associated with significant increases in the use and abuse of psycho-stimulant drugs, commonly known as Amphetamine Type Substances (or Stimulants), or ATS for short. Pseudoephedrine is found in a number of cold and flu tablets and can be diverted into the illegal manufacture of ATS. In 2007, Project STOP was rolled out nationally, supported by funding from the Federal government. It provides a convenient tool for pharmacists to comply with regulatory requirements and is mandated in some states in Australia. It can also be used to give police real-time intelligence about drug problems and hot-spots. Despite the national roll-out, Project STOP is used differently across the states and territories. This study sought to assess the impact of Project STOP on the methamphetamine problem in Queensland and Victoria, and to develop a framework for assessing its cost effectiveness. In terms of impact, we conducted interviews and measured the impact of the Project STOP intervention against a range of crime data. We also measured the impact on treatment outcomes, using data from the Alcohol and Other Drugs Treatment Services, National Minimum Data Set (AODTS-NMDS), July 2003 – June 2009 (Australian Institute of Health & Welfare). In both cases, time series analysis techniques are used.

We have also developed a method for conducting an economic analysis of Project STOP. This methodology involves comparison of alternative policy options from a cost-effectiveness perspective. The five options subject to analysis comprise: (1) Project STOP; (2) an outright ban on pseudoephedrine-based products sold in Australian pharmacies; (3) a prescription only model of products containing pseudoephedrine; (4) increased reactive policing responses; and (5) a do nothing model.

Findings

Interviews with police and third parties suggest that restrictions on the availability of methamphetamines and their precursors work best when the state-based legislative and regulatory context supports partnerships between police and community pharmacists. We also find that Project STOP led to an increase in treatment seeking behavior in Queensland. Our interrupted time series analysis comparing the impact of Project STOP in Queensland and Victoria on reported incidents shows a weak, but statistically significant reduction in drug manufacturing as a result of the implementation of Project STOP in Queensland, but not in Victoria. 

Implications for policy: Our research suggests that there is value in mandating pharmacy reporting of pseudo-ephedrine sales. Greater use of Project STOP data by police would strengthen the impact of the intervention. 

Implications for research: Further analysis is needed using interrupted time series methods to explore methamphetamine manufacture trends over time. We also need to examine the spatial difference within both Queensland and Victoria, merging the reported crime incident data with the pharmacy compliance data at the postcode level of analysis.

Project Supporters

Colonial Foundation Trust

Project Collaborators: External

Janet Ransley
Griffith University

Matthew Manning
Griffith University

Ingrid McGuffog
Griffith University

Project Research Area
Project Status
Completed

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