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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