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‘Ice’ scourge demands extra police help

Friday, 14th September, 2018

By Emily Roberts

Local police are calling for an increase in targeted officers to deal with one of the worst ice epidemics in NSW.

During the week, the Police Association of NSW released a list of crystal-meth regional hot-spots - of which Broken Hill was one - and is calling for an extra 1185 officers in Police Districts and Commands across the NSW.

The Association also wants an additional 114 police in dedicated units to focus on interrupting the supply of the drug.

Local Police Association representative, Matt McCarthy, said that in Broken Hill the Association was seeking an extra eight officers. 

“Every police officer knows how all-pervasive ice has become,” Mr McCarthy said. 

“It is a common denominator in our work. It has links to domestic violence, mental health incidents, road fatalities, youth crime, along with property offences such as house and business break-ins. 

“These are the symptoms of the prevalence of ice in our communities.

“The social impacts can be shown through impacts on family, members of the public and in the role of domestic violence.

“That is one of the major issues across the district.”

Mr McCarthy said that increasing proactive specialist police would help to target these issues.

“Local police are so stretched that they’re drowning, just dealing with the symptoms of ice and users rather than focusing their efforts on the supply chain.

“All we can do at the moment is mop up the problems, rather than getting to the root of the issue and stopping the drugs before they hit our streets. 

“That’s why we need additional police on our front line in Broken Hill - to deal with the hold ice has taken in our community.”

Mr McCarthy said having officers targeting the drug issues would free up the front line staff.

“We also need a doubling of police numbers in the Regional Enforcement Squads designed to disrupt and detect the manufacturers and suppliers of this horrible drug, with an extra 72 officers in regional NSW and 42 additional officers in the Sydney metropolitan area.

“In our area, we’re calling for an additional eight police for a Regional Enforcement Squad.”

Mr McCarthy said specialist units were being developed in major centres and police had access to more resources but a proactive stance was needed.

He said Broken Hill was a major drug trafficking route.

“Broken Hill is the main thoroughfare to Victoria and South Australia.

“Ice is a problem everywhere in the state, but our regional areas are shouldering the brunt of the scourge. 

“If we’re serious about tackling our ice problem, we need the resources to be able to focus on the drug dealers, the people pedalling this poison in our communities. 

“Regional towns like ours need specialised, targeted plans and resources to deal with ice. When it comes to dedicated police resourcing to deal with drug crime, our regions are missing out.” 

Australia’s Annual Overdose Report 2018, produced by the Pennington Institute, has warned that the nation is on track to experience a United States-style drug overdose crisis with 2,177 lives lost to drug overdose in 2016.

In the city and surrounding areas 12 people died from drug-related deaths between 2012 and 2016, compared to four deaths from 2002 to 2006.

Deaths involving amphetamines (including crystal methamphetamine or “ice”) have grown considerably in the past five years. 

Amphetamine now surpasses alcohol as the third most common substance detected in accidental drug-related deaths. 

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