Objective: To examine the prevalence, correlates and motivations for the commission of property and violent crime amongst a sample of people who inject drugs (PWID). Method: Data were obtained from the 2013 Illicit Drug Reporting System (IDRS), which includes a cross-sectional sample of 887 PWID.
Results: Eighteen percent of PWID had committed a property offence and 3% had committed a violent offence in the month preceding interview. Opioid dependence (AOR 2.57, 95% CI 1.29-5.10) and age (AOR 0.96, 95% CI 0.93-0.99) were found to be the strongest correlates of property crime. The majority of property offenders (75%) attributed their offending to financial reasons, however those under the influence of benzodiazepines were proportionately more likely to nominate opportunistic reasons as the main motivation for their last offence. Stimulant dependence (AOR 5.34, 95% CI 1.91-14.93) was the only significant correlate of past month violent crime, and the largest proportion of violent offenders (47%) attributed their offending to opportunistic reasons. The majority of both property (71%) and violent offenders (73%) reported being under the influence of drugs the last time they committed an offence; the largest proportion of property offenders reported being under the influence of benzodiazepines (29%) and methamphetamine (24%), whilst violent offenders mostly reported being under the influence of heroin and alcohol (32% respectively).
Conclusion: Criminal motivations, substance use and other correlates vary considerably across crime types. This suggests that crime prevention and intervention strategies need to be tailored according to individual crime types, and should take into account self-reported criminal motivations, as well as specific risk factors that have been shown to increase the likelihood of offending.