The impact of the Sydney Medically Supervised Injecting Centre (MSIC) on crime

Drug Alcohol Rev. 2005 Mar;24(2):173-84. doi: 10.1080/09595230500167460.


The current study aimed to model the effect of Australia's first Medically Supervised Injecting Centre (MSIC) on acquisitive crime and loitering by drug users and dealers. The effect of the MSIC on drug-related property and violent crime was examined by conducting time series analysis of police-recorded trends in theft and robbery incidents, respectively. The effect of the MSIC on drug use and dealing was examined by (a) time series analysis of a special proxy measure of drug-related loitering; (b) interviewing key informants; and (c) examining trends in the proportion of Sydney drug offences that were recorded in Kings Cross. There was no evidence that the MSIC trial led to either an increase or decrease in theft or robbery incidents. There was also no evidence that the MSIC led to an increase in 'drug-related' loitering at the front of the MSIC after it opened, although there was a small increase in 'total' loitering (by 1.2 persons per occasion of observation). Trends in both 'drug-related' and 'total' loitering at the front of the MSIC steadily declined to baseline levels, or below, after it opened. There was a very small but sustained increase in 'drug-related' (0.09 persons per count) and 'total' loitering (0.37 persons per count) at the back of the MSIC after it opened. Key informant interviews noted an increase in loitering across the road from the MSIC but this was not attributed to an influx of new users and dealers to the area. There was no increase in the proportion of drug use or drug supply offences committed in Kings Cross that could be attributed to the opening of the MSIC. These results suggest that setting up an MSIC does not necessarily lead to an increase in drug-related problems of crime and public loitering.

MeSH terms

  • Australia
  • Crime / prevention & control
  • Crime / statistics & numerical data*
  • Criminal Law / legislation & jurisprudence
  • Heroin / administration & dosage
  • Heroin Dependence / rehabilitation
  • Humans
  • Needle-Exchange Programs / methods
  • Social Problems
  • Substance Abuse Treatment Centers / methods*
  • Substance Abuse, Intravenous / rehabilitation*
  • Urban Population


  • Heroin