Authorities: arrests won’t stop ice epidemic

LAW enforcement, by itself, will not win the war against the drug ice say authorities.

"We can't arrest our way out of this" was one comment Federal Member for Page Kevin Hogan remembers clearly from a summit he organised for his electorate last week to discuss tackling the ice problem.

"It was something one of the police raised straight away," Mr Hogan said.

READ MORE: Addict's story: How I survived a $1200 a day ice habit

Mr Hogan said the purpose of the meeting involving both police commands in his electorate, community workers, service clubs and health authorities was to brief Assistant Health Minister Fiona Nash on the issues around the ice epidemic.

"I think the Minister left with a much clearer picture in her mind about the problems," Mr Hogan said.

READ MORE: Ice epidemic in South Grafton forces community workers to take action.

"The problem is not isolated to cities. It is occurring across the board in rural and regional areas.

"And it is affecting these communities much more than other drugs have in the past."

Mr Hogan said a number of government ministers will have to get on board if the government is serious about the problem.

"Over the past three to four months, I've been talking to a number of ministers: justice, health, education and social services to name some, which illustrates how widespread the problem is," he said.

"It's not a problem for a single government department, or the government. It's something the whole community needs to confront."

Mr Hogan believes the minister will make an announcement soon about the measure it will take to deal with the problem.

He said educating young people about the nature of the drug before they're exposed to it is a proven method to lower its impact.

"We've seen it with the anti-smoking awareness campaigns and alcohol abuse awareness," he said.

"When young people are educated about the effects of these drugs on their bodies, they're much less likely to be interested down the track when they're exposed to it later in life."

In the meantime local police want community help to tackle widespread ice use in the region.

Detective Acting Inspector Kingsley Chapman, Acting Crime Manager for the Coffs Clarence Command said the low cost and ease of manufacture of ice was one of the main difficulties for police.

"There are a lot of small time players out there," he said. "Drug labs can be located in garages in back yards."

The manufacturing process is dangerous in itself.

"None of the back yard labs I've seen are what you would call sterile," Det Insp Chapman said.

"You also have issues of dealing with a number of volatile chemicals that can cause explosions and fires.

"And on occasions we've discovered labs where we've had to get special chemical operations teams to come in to deal with the chemicals we find."

He said local police were using proactive policing to focus on the three levels of drug use, using, supplying and manufacturing.

"We rely heavily on the community to assist us to identify those people who are manufacturing and trafficking ice," he said.

"We've had a lot of success finding ice labs because of this, but the problem is still out there."

Det Insp Chapman said ice trafficking was was also a major organised crime activity for crime syndicates including outlaw motorcyle gangs.

"I'm not aware of the exact figures, but there would be a mix of locally produced and outside drugs in the command at any one time," he said.

"Whether it's brought in or made here, we always need help from the community.:

If people notice suspicious activity they think could be drug related they contact the local station or Crimestoppers 1800 333 000.


What is ice?

  • Ice is the most pure form of the class of drugs known as amphetamines.
  • The 'high' experienced from ice is much more intense and with intense reactions come powerful responses including comedown, the potential for dependence (addiction) and chronic physical and mental problems.