Commissioner Darren HineSOME drivers involved in fatal or serious road accidents are testing positive for amphetamines, prompting police to warn of the drugs’ impact on Tasmanian families.
Tasmania Police Commissioner Darren Hine warned state MPs of the drugs’ influence in road fatalities and family violence during budget estimates hearings last month.
About 16 per cent of people killed or seriously injured in road crashes after which blood samples were taken tested positive for the drugs speed or ice between July, 2014 and March this year, he said.
In 45 per cent of positive drug tests, the drivers had used speed or ice, Commissioner Hine said.
Drugs affected offenders in about 203 or 10 per cent of family violence cases between July, 2014 and March this year, MPs heard.
“[Ice] will destroy lives and families. That is the message we need to give our young people,” he said.
Assistant Commissioner Donna Adams told MPs that of 403 serious drug charges police made, they charged 145 offenders in relation to amphetamines.
Of all drug charges, 33 per cent were in relation to ice, Commissioner Hine said.
Rural Health Tasmania chief executive officer Rob Waterman said the flow-on effects of amphetamines in road safety and family violence were not discussed enough.
“That’s quite concerning there’s people on our roads now with methamphetamine in their system,” he said.
“I think police are doing a phenomenal job, they’re trying their hardest, but they’ve said they can’t [arrest] their way out of this.”
He said the figures showed the need for early intervention and prevention programs, which he estimated would cost $1.2 million to implement state wide.
“Methamphetamine ice use is taking this country by storm. It’s happening very quickly.”
Women’s Legal Service Tasmania chief executive officer Susan Fahey said amphetamines exacerbated family violence and could lead to deaths in those cases.
Police seizures of amphetamines in Tasmania increased 90 per cent in 2013-2014.
Tasmania Police Assistant Commissioner Richard Cowling said the targeting of serious drug offenders last year was reflected in the number of charges for serious drug offences and the increase in the amount of drugs seized during the period reported in budget estimates.
People who drove while under the influence of drugs continued to be a concern for police and one of the focuses of the force’s intelligence-led road safety strategies, he said.
“We use a targeted approach to oral fluid testing and have significantly increased the number of OFTs we undertake.
“This targeted approach results in a high number of positive results from the tests. Note that these figures do not reflect illicit drug use in the general driver population.”
Health Minister Michael Ferguson said the figures supported the state government’s view that there was a serious problem to confront.
The government allocated an additional $4.8 million in the recent state budget to tackle the problem of ice and other drugs in Tasmania, he said.
“There has also been collaboration among the police, [departments of] health, justice and the community sector in addressing this issue.”
This spending would fund 11 recommendations of last year’s report into the North-West’s ice use, Mr Ferguson said.
The funding included 12 new residential rehabilitation beds with a priority in the North-West, he said.
This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.