The link between the use of alcohol, other drugs and crime continues to be a concern in communities throughout Australia. In regional Western Australia, little is known about the patterns of substance use and crime. In an attempt to better understand a regional offending population and their alcohol and drug use, the Australian Institute of Criminology’s Drug Use Monitoring in Australia (DUMA) project was utilised to collect such data in the Pilbara region of Western Australia.
In South Hedland (regional Western Australia), 51 police detainees were interviewed and compared with a sample of 209 Perth (metropolitan Western Australia) detainees. The findings indicated that while illicit drug use among those interviewed in a regional setting was significantly lower across most drug types, alcohol use was higher. Of particular concern were the levels of risky drinking reported by South Hedland detainees and their assertion that alcohol contributed to their current detention. These findings are important in providing a better picture of alcohol and drug use in a regional population and will assist in shaping prevention and response strategies.