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Trends in minor drug offences sentenced in the Magistrates’ Court of Victoria

Criminal justice Drug crime Sentencing Victoria

This report examines trends in the prevalence and sentencing of minor drug offences in the Magistrates’ Court of Victoria in the 10 years from 1 July 2007 to 30 June 2017 (the reference period). For this report, a minor drug offence is defined as the possession or use of an illicit drug of dependence. The report analyses data on 118,101 proven charges of a minor drug offence. In total, 61,788 cases in the Magistrates’ Court included at least one proven charge of a minor drug offence.

The report finds that, over the reference period, there was a substantial increase in the number of proven charges of a minor drug offence, particularly from 2010–11 to 2016–17, when the number increased by 97%, from 8,586 to 16,937.

The increase in minor drug offences was primarily driven by the drug methylamphetamine. The number of proven charges relating to methylamphetamine increased from just 263 in 2007–08 to 5,712 in 2016–17, when it surpassed cannabis (5,169 proven charges) as the most common drug type in minor drug offences. The number of proven charges involving prescription drugs increased by 298%, from 250 in 2007–08 to 996 in 2016–17.

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