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Indigenous involvement in crime

Via Andrew Leigh I got a link to this useful data base on ATSI involvement in crime. It is old (2002, why?) but as up-to-date as anything else available. It is a grim picture.

A quarter of ATSI had been subject to violent attack in the past 12 months. There are high rates of imprisonment and arrest also. These are closely linked to drug and alcohol abuse.

On the characteristics of those incarcerated:

  • In 2002, 7% of ATSI aged 15 years and over reported having been incarcerated in the 5 years prior to the survey (11% of males and 3% of females).
  • ATSI who had been incarcerated were more likely than those who had not been incarcerated to be unemployed (32% compared with 12%).
  • Among ATSI who had been incarcerated, 30% reported risky/high risk levels of long-term alcohol consumption in the 12 months prior to the survey, compared with 14% of those who had not been incarcerated.
  • In non-remote areas, 56% of ATSI who had been incarcerated reported using an illicit substance in the 12 months prior to the survey compared with 21% of those who had not been incarcerated.

In my view Don Weatherburn and Noel Pearson are right. It is not only that drug abuse is a symptom of social disadvantage – it is a substantial source as well. Isolated local ATSI communities should be helped to enforce ‘dry areas’ with blanket illicit drug and alcohol bans but these are impractical measures in urban areas.

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