Spike in drug crime sparks 'urgent' need for action
IPSWICH has a drug problem and it's not going away.
Within the city limits more people are being charged with drug related crime.
Ipswich is experiencing an unprecedented population boom, but the numbers show drug related crime is on the rise too.
In the past year, armed robberies have almost doubled, property crime has increased while the number of domestic violence protection orders, and breaches, is also on the rise.
Demand for drug rehabilitation services has significantly increased in recent years, while the State Government has confirmed the drug ice is playing a major role in child protection matters.
The Labor State Government was in the process of implementing its plan to tackle the growing problem by re-introducing a Drug Court, specifically designed to connect eligible offenders with support services, when the election was called.
Ipswich MP Jennifer Howard said in the past five years, the city had experienced a spike in drug related offences.
In Ipswich, drug related crime has risen from a total of 1,208 offences in 2012, compared to 2,977 this year.
Ms Howard said the numbers demonstrated the urgent need for a wider range of sentencing options which provide treatment.
But, Ipswich's top cop warned an increase in drug related charges didn't necessarily equate to an increase in crime rates.
Detective senior sergeant Troy Salton said it came down to how proactive the police were and the higher numbers could be a reflection of more proactive police work, rather than an increase in drug related, criminal activity.
"Arrests are just one aspect of how we measure our drug problem," Det. Sen. Sgt. Salton said.
"Sometimes an increase in those types of figures isn't necessarily a bad thing because it could mean we are doing more proactive police work including executing raids.
"We need to look at drugs as a social and community problem and refer to engagement through community services, for example, to measure the problem rather than relying solely on crime statistics."
In September last year, Ipswich's main government funded rehabilitation service, the Alcohol and Other Drugs Service, had more referrals related to methamphetamines than alcohol for the first time ever.
A year later, the latest figures to September show methamphetamines remains a major problem for Ipswich with 28% of people referred to AODS seeking help for methamphetamine addiction compared to 31% related to alcohol.
That's compared to 2013 when only 15.35% of referrals to AODS were related to methamphetamines.
Ice use has wide reaching implications, as demonstrated by alarming figures released by the Child Safety Department earlier this year.
In April, the Department revealed 127 Ipswich children in the child protection system had a parent using ice with the most cases in Springfield.
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