The Courier-Mail

ICE CRI­SIS LINKED TO GROG BAN

- NEIL DOOR­LEY

RE­STRICT­ING the sale of al­co­hol in Queens­land’s in­dige­nous com­mu­ni­ties has led to a rise in de­mand for the highly ad­dic­tive drug ice, the state’s top cop has re­vealed.

Po­lice Com­mis­sioner Ian Stewart said deal­ers were now tar­get­ing the al­co­hol-free in­dige­nous com­mu­ni­ties be­cause they know there is a “ready mar­ket for ice” there.

And he said the cost of the drug scourge on the com­mu­ni­ties was enor­mous.

“It is highly ad­dic­tive, and it has huge im­pacts on the in­di­vid­ual and they can be­come very vi­o­lent,” Mr Stewart said.

Mr Stewart’s warn­ing was echoed by Aus­tralian Crime Com­mis­sion boss Chris Daw­son, who said “sig­nif­i­cant’’ amounts of the drug were be­ing con­sumed in re­mote in­dige­nous com­mu­ni­ties.

Nine­teen in­dige­nous com­mu­ni­ties across Queens­land ei­ther to­tally ban or im­pose strict re­stric­tions that limit the amount and type of al­co­hol peo­ple are al­lowed.

AL­CO­HOL re­stric­tions are driv­ing in­dige­nous com­mu­ni­ties to experiment with drugs in­clud­ing the highly-ad­dic­tive ice, the state’s Top Cop fears.

Po­lice Com­mis­sioner Ian Stewart warned anec­do­tal ev­i­dence re­vealed al­co­hol re­forms were open­ing up op­por­tu­ni­ties for cash-hun­gry drug deal­ers traf­fick­ing crys­tal methy­lam­phetamine.

“There has al­ways been this view, that with al­co­hol man­age­ment plans we’ve seen a rise in drugs in in­dige­nous com­mu­ni­ties,’’ Mr Stewart (pic­tured) said.

“And I sus­pect there are those who tar­get those com­mu­ni­ties be­cause they be­lieve there is a ready mar­ket for ice.’’

Ac­cord­ing to the Aus­tralian Crime Com­mis­sion, the ice scourge had spread to dan­ger­ous lev­els in re­mote Abo­rig­i­nal com­mu­ni­ties around the na­tion.

ACC boss Chris Daw­son said “sig­nif­i­cant’’ amounts of

Po­lice Com­mis­sioner Ian Stewart the drug were be­ing con­sumed, and the com­mu­ni­ties were be­ing “se­verely” im­pacted by ice.

With ice fetch­ing more than $500 a gram on the street, Mr Stewart said the cost of the drug on the com­mu­nity was enor­mous.

“It is highly ad­dic­tive and it has huge im­pacts on the in­di­vid­ual and they can be­come very vi­o­lent,’’ he said.

“When peo­ple ad­dicted to it use up any re­serves (of cash) they’ve got, they steal from their fam­i­lies.

“Where the dam­age oc­curs to small com­mu­ni­ties, whether in­dige­nous or small coun­try towns, is that peo­ple who be­come ad­dicted to ice, move away and go to the big cities, be­cause that is where they can get ready sup­plies of the drug.

“It also means when they be­come des­per­ate, they can turn to crime, or turn to pros­ti­tu­tion to get the money.’’

Mr Stewart said Queens­land po­lice had “ramped up their in­tel­li­gence’’ and were work­ing “far more closely’ with fed­eral author­i­ties to com­bat the spread of ice.

“It has be­come the drug we are tar­get­ing in terms of our in­ter­ven­tion strate­gies,’’ Mr Stewart said.

“While we still ob­vi­ously go af­ter other il­licit drugs, ice is the one which is hurt­ing our com­mu­ni­ties the most, so a lot of our re­sources and in­tel­li­gence have been fo­cused di­rectly on the sup­ply trade.

“The other big is­sue is, that ev­ery­one recog­nises that you can’t ar­rest your way out of this prob­lem. So ed­u­ca­tion, in­ter­dic­tion and try­ing to stop the flow, the sup­ply and de­mand side of it, is re­ally crit­i­cal to us.’’

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