Reducing the Methamphetamine Problem in Australia: Evaluating Innovative Partnerships Between Police, Pharmacies and Other Third Parties

Project Supporters:

Colonial Foundation Trust

Drug Type:
image - Puzzle
Additional Project Members
Project Main Description

Partnership approaches to policing drug problems range from loose coalitions between the police and other agencies, to third party policing where relevant ‘third parties’ are co-opted through the use of regulatory and legislative levers. This project explores the role of partnerships between the police and third parties (e.g. community pharmacies) in the prevention and reduction of the diversion of licit precursor chemicals. We compared and contrasted the adoption and implementation of an innovative partnership, Project STOP, in two different jurisdictions: Queensland and Victoria. We conducted a major survey of over 2000 community pharmacists in Queensland and Victoria. We also interviewed key stakeholders and undertook a legislative review of the reporting frameworks in Queensland and Victoria.

Findings

Our analysis of the relevant regulatory and legal levers revealed that two distinct regulatory frameworks underpin Project STOP in Queensland and Victoria. The Queensland mandatory reporting model is a coercive ‘third party’ partnership and the Victorian model is a looser voluntary coalition between the police and pharmacies. Mandatory, as opposed to voluntary, recording by pharmacists of identification details of customers who purchase or attempt to purchase pseudoephedrine products helps the police keep track of potential “pseudo-runners:” people who shop for Cold and Flu tablets at many different pharmacies with the intent of diverting the tablets for illegal production of ATS. The contrasting regulatory frameworks played a pivotal role in the decision by police in both jurisdictions to invest in and pursue the partnership. Police in Queensland reported that the mandatory reporting requirement for pharmacists was the key factor for police engagement with Project STOP. Variations, however, occur at the local level where some police in Queensland forge close and productive partnerships with community pharmacists, whereas others fail to optimize the benefits of forging a working relationship.

Project Supporters

Colonial Foundation Trust

Benefits

Implications for policy: Our research suggests that there are great benefits from legislating mandatory reporting of pseudo ephedrine sales by community pharmacists. Greater consistency is needed among the State and Federal governments in their approach to the control of methamphetamines and precursors. Both police and their community pharmacy partners are more engaged when there is a clear regulatory framework supporting their partnerships, rather than one dependant purely on vol    untary cooperation. Moreover, the looser, voluntary model that prevails in Victoria misses an important opportunity to control the negative effects of pre-curser diversion. We also suggest that opportunities for displacement of drug crimes between the states are likely whilst Australia operates with different reporting regimes.

Our research also suggests that Project STOP helps facilitate the translation of individual sales data into useful police intelligence for the identification of trends, hotspots and patterns of activity in illicit or diverted pseudoephedrine products. The intelligence provided by mandatory or voluntary pseudo-ephedrine reporting systems, via the Project STOP database, can actually be incorporated into police operational decision-making. This helps police to effectively plan and launch covert police interventions

Project Collaborators: External

Janet Ransley
Griffith University

Julianne Webster
Griffith University

Jackie Drew
Griffith University

Project Research Area
Project Status
Completed

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