Proactive policing sees a 2403% increase in drug seizures
THE seizure of almost $1 million in drugs in the Ipswich Police District in 2013/14 highlights the success of a transition from reactive to proactive drug enforcement.
Police in Ipswich seized drugs to the value of $978,413 in 2013/14 compared to $39,083 the previous year, a whopping 2403% increase.
Those seizures were reflected in the 785 extra drug offences detected in the district compared to the previous year.
The annual rise in drug offences from 1354 to 2139, an increase of 58%, is on the surface an alarming statistic.
But Inspector Keith McDonald said it reflected the success of a targeted approach with more resources.
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"We have arrested more people for drug offences in the last 12 months than we did in the previous year, because we have had a specific group focussing on it," he said.
"Our tactical crime squad is focussed primarily now on the investigation of drug offences.
"They are executing warrants and turning over the drug offenders a lot more frequently.
"The CIB is also responsible for that, so there is a joint approach."
Insp McDonald used an analogy to explain exactly what is happening, likening criminals to a pack of cards.
There is a link between drug offences and break and enter and property offences, with proceeds from robberies often used to finance drug habits.
"Think of it as a deck of cards. You have 52 cards in the deck. Previously we asked officers in charge (OICs) to focus on the deck," he said.
"Now we are taking away a certain amount of cards for a group to focus on.
"Because we have a particular group focussed on drug offences, their arrest rate is going to be higher than under the previous arrangement.
"When you start to chip away at the property offences and the break and enters into houses, you start to interrupt the chain."
In 2013/14 there were 147 people charged on a combined tally of 338 charges, compared to 68 on 146 charges the previous year.
That represents an increase of 132%.
Despite their success, drugs remain an issue in Ipswich.
"Marijuana is still out there and the powders are still coming through," Insp McDonald said.
"The amphetamine group of drugs is still out there and there is probably more prevalence of those than in previous years.
"Any person on drugs is a problem for the community.
"It is not just the crimes they commit, it is the health issues and associated social issues that go with taking drugs."