Victorian communities are facing complex and widespread challenges in the face of rising use of the methamphetamine drug commonly known as Ice. Through proactive policing there is evidence emerging of Ice linked to deaths on our roads, family violence, burglary and theft, and assaults in our streets.
Ice is a stimulant – where it speeds up the messages going between the brain and the body. It is a highly addictive and aggressive drug. ‘Ice psychosis’ is caused by high doses and frequent heavy use. It is characterised by paranoid delusions, hallucinations, and bizarre, aggressive or violent behaviour. It destroys lives, relationships, families and undermines the safety of our communities. My job as Police and Emergency Services Minister is to ensure the Victorian Coalition Government is providing Victoria Police with the resources it needs to enforce the law. Supply reduction is part of the core business of Victoria Police, and clandestine laboratory detection is playing a key role in wiping out supply.
The Coalition Government has resourced Victoria Police with the largest number of police recruits in the history of law enforcement in this state, and this in turn is supporting a significant frontline advance against criminal behaviour, including targeted operations across the state to detect and stem the Ice trade. These operations are as local as they are universal in that the approach involves local intelligence from uniform and CIU, combined with specialist units linked to larger operations targeting drug importers, manufactures and traffickers. In the 2011/12 financial year Victoria Police detected 99 clandestine labs across Victoria. As of Thursday, August 22, they have busted 85 clan labs this calendar year alone. That’s one every two days.
This trend of increased methamphetamine is reflected within Australia and Victoria in both the National and Victorian Illicit Drugs Reporting System, which suggest that Ice use was significantly higher than previous years and was the most commonly used form of methamphetamine. This supports claims by regions that they are experiencing an increase in the prevalence of Ice within Victoria. It not only highlights drug availability and its use within our communities, but also gives a strong indication that increased enforcement initiatives through targeted operations and proactive policing – driven by increased police numbers – means Ice is firmly on the law and order agenda.
Detection and prosecution of Ice has dominated headlines in regional newspapers where disturbing instances of crimes committed by ice-crazed offenders are prevalent in court and police rounds reporting. Research in 2010 by the National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre, University of New South Wales concluded that violence is endemic amongst drug users and that regular methamphetamine users appear to be at an increased risk of violent crime compared to that of heroin users. They reported that methamphetamine users were more likely to have committed an assault in the preceding 12 months where their victim required treatment. There also remains a strong correlation between people that are detected for drug offences and the commission of other offences, in particular crime against property.
While evidence is anecdotal, there is a growing acknowledgement that Ice is driving a rise in reported crime – crimes against the person, family violence, armed robbery, handling stolen goods. As I said earlier, my role as Police Minister is to ensure Victoria Police has the resources to reduce demand and supply of this insidious poison. I am proud to say that the Coalition Government has facilitated the deployment of approximately 1200 of the 1700 new police officers to the frontline – and that alone is having an impact on the detection of clan labs, which in turn undermines supply. This government continues to support the excellent work of Victoria Police in attacking the supply base that feeds the Ice-related crime on our streets.
The Hon Kim Wells MP, Minister for Police and Emergency Services, Minister for Bushfire Response.