Managing intoxicated offenders in the field and in the watch-house

Susan Goldsmid1*, Georgina Fuller1 & Rick Brown1

1 Australian Institute of Criminology

*corresponding author:

A considerable proportion of a police officer’s time involves interactions with persons who are intoxicated or under the influence of alcohol and other drugs. The risks associated with intoxication are not limited to the affected individual as their behaviour may also present risks to the police and other frontline service personnel, or to the public. The Australian Institute of Criminology (AIC) was funded by the National Drug Law Enforcement Research Fund to develop a best practice framework to help guide the development of police policies and practices in identifying, responding to and managing intoxication and withdrawal. A mixed-methods methodology was implemented. This included a literature review, case study analysis using data from the National Deaths in Custody Program, a comparative review of police policies and guidelines, quantitative analysis of substance use profiles of Australian police detainees and consultations with police members. The strategies that have been adopted by police services in four jurisdictions across Australia to manage intoxication-based risks were explored. The resulting C.A.L.M framework comprises four, non-sequential phases (Control, Assess, Liaise and Manage). Identification of risks to the police, the offender and the public in each phase and considerations related to intoxication and withdrawal will also be discussed. The C.A.L.M framework is not intended to replace existing police procedures, but rather to provide an evidence-based foundation that promotes consistency and knowledge sharing across Australian police jurisdictions to aid the police in the management of intoxicated offenders.


Dr Susan Goldsmid is a Principal Research Analyst with the AIC. She has previously had an established career as a sworn member within the Australian Federal Police, holding various roles in operational, intelligence and training areas. Susan’s areas of specialisation include police practice and futures work. She is currently undertaking research examining Victoria Police operational safety principles, the future of police investigation capabilities, and the future nature of the Australian illicit drug market.


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