Turn­ing around pris­on­ers to drugs

Western Suburbs Weekly - - Meth Crisis - The State Goverment Plan - By GIO­VANNI TORRE

TACK­LING the sup­ply side in the fight against meth has been al­most as com­plex as try­ing to re­duce de­mand.

New WA At­tor­ney Gen­eral John Quigley told the West­ern Sub­urbs Weekly that ad­dress­ing the meth cri­sis con­fronting WA was one of the State Govern­ment’s top pri­or­i­ties.

“We need to adopt a mul­ti­fac­eted ap­proach to deal­ing with the meth scourge. Our co-or­di­nated Metham­phetamine Ac­tion Plan will fo­cus on early pre­ven­tion, treatment and re­ha­bil­i­ta­tion, as well as prose­cu­tion,” he said.

“The Govern­ment’s plan in­cludes $2 mil­lion for treatment fa­cil­i­ties to pro­vide early in­ter­ven­tion; two spe­cialised re­ha­bil­i­ta­tion cen­tres - one in the South-west and one in the Kim­ber­ley; and cre­at­ing two ded­i­cated drug and al­co­hol re­ha­bil­i­ta­tion pris­ons.”

Cus­to­dial Ser­vices In­spec­tor Neil Mor­gan said drugs con­tin­ued to get into pris­ons.

“The real­ity is that un­for­tu­nately there are some drugs get­ting in. That said, the re­ha­bil­i­ta­tion in prison presents an op­por­tu­nity for the peo­ple who want to stop us­ing,” Pro­fes­sor Mor­gan said.

“The Depart­ment does what it can to stop drugs com­ing in. We prob­a­bly have not fo­cused enough on the de­mand side of things - we have to stop the de­mand.

“It is time the Govern­ment looked at grow­ing the drug pro­grams in prison.

“The new govern­ment has com­mit­ted to meth re­ha­bil­i­ta­tion fa­cil­i­ties. I have not seen the de­tails but I agree with the con­cept.

“We have to un­der­stand drug re­ha­bil­i­ta­tion pro­grams evolve. Around 10 years ago the drug of pri­mary con­cern was heroin.

“What you need to do for meth users will be dif­fer­ent to what you have to do for heroin users.”

In terms of tack­ing sup­ply, Mr Quigley said cur­rent sen­tenc­ing was in­suf­fi­cient to de­ter meth traf­fick­ers from their trade.

“We will in­crease to life the max­i­mum penalty for meth traf­fick­ers,” he said.

The At­tor­ney Gen­eral said sen­tenc­ing would “send a strong mes­sage to both the com­mu­nity and the ju­di­ciary that meth traf­fick­ers will not be tol­er­ated in WA”, as will the cre­ation of the Meth Bor­der Force – a ded­i­cated unit em­ploy­ing an ad­di­tional 100 po­lice of­fi­cers.

Shadow At­tor­ney Gen­eral Michael Mischin stressed it was im­por­tant to dis­tin­guish be­tween “meth users who have a health is­sue and meth users, deal­ers and traf­fick­ers who are en­gag­ing in crim­i­nal ac­tiv­ity”.

“For those users who have an ad­dic­tion, there is a wide spec­trum of ser­vices… (but) those deal­ing in meth need to be sub­ject to the full force of the law,” he said.

In­spec­tor of Cus­to­dial Ser­vices Neil Mor­gan speaks at a gen­eral meet­ing of Out­care, a re­ha­bil­i­ta­tion ser­vice that aims to break the cy­cle of re-of­fend­ing.

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