Predicting the Australian illicit drug market

S. Goldsmid1* & G. Fuller1

1 Australian Institute of Criminology

*corresponding author:

Developing a vision of what the Australian illicit drug market will look like at the start of 2018 can assist law enforcement, health-care and governments to proactively allocate resources and form appropriate responses. The Australian Institute of Criminology has embarked on a novel study, to examine the form and nature that the Australian illicit drug market will take based on the opinions and perspectives of police detainees. An adjusted Delphi methodology was implemented. A Delphi study seeks to form a consensus view on a topic across a panel of experts. In this case, the topic was the availability, purity and price of cannabis, methamphetamine, heroin, ecstasy and cocaine at the start of 2018, as well as factors that may exert influence on the illicit drug market by 2018. The expert panel was recruited via the Drug Use Monitoring in Australia program, as a substantial proportion of police detainees have regular contact with the illicit drug market as users, sellers and manufacturers. The pilot study was conducted at the Perth watch-house. Police detainees were able to provide estimates of the availability, purity and price of cannabis, methamphetamine, heroin, ecstasy and cocaine now and at the start of 2018. The responses indicated that shifts were predicted to occur for some drugs across the period of interest. Detainees also provided qualitative responses describing the reasoning behind their decisions. This methodology holds promise as a new avenue to gather data that can inform the development of national and state-based illicit drug strategies.


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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