United effort needed to combat Darling Downs ice scourge
A WHOLE community approach geared toward education and awareness is needed to combat the ice scourge gripping regional centres, according to the region's top cop.
Darling Downs district officer Detective Inspector Dave Isherwood said it was not just ice destroying lives across the Darling Downs but all illicit substances.
He has called for greater awareness to help put a stop to it.
Det. Insp. Isherwood has seen illicit drug usage in kids as young as nine and police have reported an increase in backyard manufacturers of ice and other hard drugs.
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The national taskforce announced by Prime Minister Tony Abbott targeting the production, spread and use of ice was just one step toward tackling the wider drug problem in our regions, Det. Insp. Isherwood said.
"To say it is wholly restricted to ice is misleading of the facts - we have a problem with all drugs," he said.
"It is a symptom of our society, of our time, and the drug problem is not just in the big capital cities."
Police have seen a 136 per cent increase in ice seizures in Tara between 2012 and 2014.
Dalby seizures increased by 80% for the same period.
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Toowoomba has had a large increase in drug-related offences.
Police recorded 403 drug-related arrests in February this year, compared to 243 for the same month last year.
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"Our seizures have been more home-based as opposed to actual commercial productions," Det. Insp. Isherwood said.
"Home-based means it has been made in a house as opposed to a big production factory, and we continually arrest people in relation to it.
"We've had some good seizures and have concentrated on it.
"The taskforce won't change the focus of what we do. We will continue to proactively target the illicit drug market through proactive overt activities and also covert activities."
The change from large-scale production to smaller, backyard operations meant it was harder for police to bust criminal drug organisations but would not deter them from targeting the illegal substances.
Instead, it meant a wider community approach was needed to help identify drug hotspots.
"Regardless of the activities of police to curb the drug problem and policing methodologies, it hasn't seen a decrease in drug usage," Det. Insp. Isherwood said.
"These processed drugs and methamphetamines are cut down using other ingredients, for example, washing powder.
"If people realised what they were taking, would they actually take it?
"This is where the community needs to be involved - it's something policing itself cannot stop."
Ice and methamphetamine have been known to send people on crazed rampages, destroying property and injuring both themselves and innocent bystanders.
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It is a stimulant that can be snorted, injected or smoked, producing an instant sensation of euphoria.
But it affected each person differently, Det. Insp. Isherwood said.
"Health professionals say it is highly addictive because of the way it is produced and it has more addictive properties in its make-up.
"The reality is that illicit drugs are no longer isolated to the bigger capital cities.
"It is a symptom of everywhere and you are naive if you think the issue of drugs is not in this city."
Symptoms of ice use
- Profuse sweating
- Shakes, shivers and extreme mood swings
- Dramatic change of overall behaviour