WA Speaks: Meth drug issue voted state’s top crime problem

West Australians are now fully awake to the sobering truth — meth is destroying our city and state.

As seven in 10 WA Speaks respondents singled drugs out as the No. 1 law enforcement issue, the Police Commissioner said meth was fuelling crime at home, at work and in the streets.

Karl O’Callaghan said our findings reflected the fact WA continued to have the highest meth use per capita in Australia — and nobody knew why.

Of the 8900 West Australians surveyed, 67 per cent said drug use was the biggest problem. This dwarfed domestic violence (13 per cent), alcohol-fuelled violence (6 per cent), terrorism (4 per cent), child sex abuse (4 per cent), hoons (2 per cent) and bikies (2 per cent).

Federal Justice Minister Michael Keenan, who recently announced waste water testing at seven secret locations in WA to identify where “clan labs” might be, said he had spoken to many WA families dealing with “this violent drug”.

“(Ice) can cause violence, it can cause unemployment, and it fuels crimes such as burglary, robbery, theft and even murder — which has put enormous pressure on our courts and the legal system,” he said.

“Most devastatingly though it puts those that are most willing to help users — such as family members, emergency service operators including police, nurses, doctors and ambulance officers — at significant risk …”

Mr O’Callaghan said his officers were confronted by the effects of drug use at all levels.

Drug rehabilitation centre Shalom House manager Peter Lyndon-James, centre, with residents Sam Bezant, Kaj Bulliard, Wayne Diek and Warren Jones. Picture: Justin Benson-Cooper.
Drug rehabilitation centre Shalom House manager Peter Lyndon-James, centre, with residents Sam Bezant, Kaj Bulliard, Wayne Diek and Warren Jones. Picture: Justin Benson-Cooper.

“But amphetamine-class drugs cause people to be more hyper and more aggressive and so of course that is reflected in street crime, burglaries, family violence and a whole range of things.”

Heavier penalties (19 per cent), more rehabilitation services (23 per cent) or a mixture of both (54 per cent) were considered the best way to combat ice by WA Speaks respondents.

Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission chief executive Chris Dawson said reducing the demand for drugs was key.

Shalom House, a residential drug rehabilitation centre in the Swan Valley, is in the midst of a Supreme Court battle with the local council to stay open. Manager Peter Lyndon-James said the self-funded facility was saving lives.

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