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Age-related differences in patterns of criminal activity among a large sample of polydrug injectors in Australia


Horyniak, D and Dietze, P and Degenhardt, L and Agius, P and Higgs, P and Bruno, R and Alati, R and Burns, L, Age-related differences in patterns of criminal activity among a large sample of polydrug injectors in Australia, Journal of Substance Use, 21, (1) pp. 48-56. ISSN 1475-9942 (2016) [Refereed Article]

Copyright Statement

Copyright 2014 Elsevier

DOI: doi:10.3109/14659891.2014.950700


Background: The relationship between age and criminal activity among drug-using populations is poorly understood.

Methods: Data from 10 years of repeat cross-sectional surveys of sentinel samples of regular people who inject drugs (PWID) across Australia (n=5844) were used to explore the relationship between age and past-month drug dealing, property crime and violent crime, and past-year arrest. Descriptive statistics were used to explore the prevalence and frequency of each outcome. The relationship between age and each outcome was measured using multivariable Poisson regression with robust error variance.

Results: After adjusting for confounding factors, each 5-year increase in age was associated with significant reductions in drug dealing (adjusted incidence rate ratio [AIRR]: 0.90, 95% confidence interval [CI]: 0.870.94), property crime (AIRR: 0.85, 95% CI: 0.820.89) and violent crime (AIRR: 0.77, 95% CI: 0.700.85). Older participants were also significantly less likely to report being arrested in the past 12 months (AIRR: 0.91, 95% CI: 0.880.93).

Conclusions: Younger PWID are more heavily involved in criminal activity compared with their older counterparts. This study highlights the need for early intervention programmes to prevent offending behaviour becoming entrenched, as well as continued efforts to redirect young PWID away from the criminal justice system and into treatment and education programmes.

Item Details

Item Type:Refereed Article
Keywords:age, Australia, crime, injecting drug use, violence
Research Division:Psychology
Research Group:Biological psychology
Research Field:Behavioural neuroscience
Objective Division:Health
Objective Group:Public health (excl. specific population health)
Objective Field:Public health (excl. specific population health) not elsewhere classified
UTAS Author:Bruno, R (Associate Professor Raimondo Bruno)
ID Code:95991
Year Published:2016 (online first 2014)
Web of Science® Times Cited:10
Deposited By:Psychology
Deposited On:2014-10-14
Last Modified:2020-01-03

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