Western region police want more powers to stop vehicles suspected of transporting ice

POLICE say they need more powers to tackle the south-west’s “rampant” ice problem.

Superintendent Don Downes.

Superintendent Don Downes.

Drug labs in Melbourne and Mount Gambier are believed to be supplying most of the region’s crystal methamphetamine but police say they have limited powers to stop and search vehicles suspected of transporting the drug. 

“Incidents of violence in the family home is often linked to ice.”

Speaking at yesterday’s ice inquiry, Victoria Police western region Superintendent Don Downes said officers would be better able to detect vehicles if they adopted South Australian laws targeting key roads used by drug dealers. 

“Legislation in South Australia is able to declare certain roads drug transit routes, which would gives us increased power to search vehicles on those routes between certain days and certain times,” Superintendent Downes said. 

“Once that declaration is made we then have increased power to check vehicles on those roads with a lesser burden of proof.” 

Superintendent Downes said the tactic had been effective in joint operations between police in both states. 

“I think the legislation … is stronger legislation than what we have in Victoria,” he said. 

The drug is increasingly taking up police time, despite the fact no clandestine drug labs have been found recently in the south-west. 

“It’s just coming onto us so quickly. It’s not an epidemic, but every time you come to work there’s a story about the impact of ice,” Superintendent Downes said.  

“Incidents of violence in the family home is often linked to ice.” 

Superintendent Downes confirmed ice trafficking was linked to outlaw motorcycle gangs but would not go into detail until a confidential sitting of the inquiry.

Police had formed a dedicated ice drug taskforce in response, Superintendent Downes said. 

“We’ve had multiple overdose incidents in the last three years, including two deaths,” he said.

“From July 2012 to July 2013 we received in excess of 250 information reports from south-west Victoria (about drug trafficking) and since that date we have received a further 150 information reports.” 

Young people under the age of 24 are the leading demograph affected by ice, he said. 

“From our data that we take from arrests or people we process for using the drug we’re seeing the predominant age being under 24. Ice is unfortunately the drug of choice for the indigenous population in south-west Victoria,” he said. 

He said drug debts between users and traffickers were also behind violent incidents known as “run throughs”. 

“The violence that’s perpetrated by the offenders on the victims is extreme and is completely out of proportion to the recovery of the debt,” he said. 

He said drug dealers tended to offer people an “experience” of ice in a bid to get them hooked. 

“Then because of the highly-addictive nature it becomes a dependency,” he said. 

A poisonous drug that eats away the family dynamic 



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