Friday August 30 2013
– A surge in vicious attacks, including killings, linked to the drug ice has alarmed Victoria’s police and judiciary.
In at least 12 murders committed or tried by courts over the past two years, crystal methamphetamine was used by the killer or was otherwise a suspected factor in the crime.
Police on the beat warn the widespread use of the drug is creating a new level of violence and turning unstable people into dangerous criminals.
Acting Assistant Commissioner Doug Fryer, of the Victoria Police Intelligence and Covert Support Section, said: “This is our new heroin.”
Mr Fryer said it was clear there has been an “increase in ice-related activity in relation to homicide”.
Victoria Police figures show that in the past financial year, there were 3218 amphetamine-related assaults and 3990 burglaries.
Ice is the most popular type of amphetamine in Victoria.
A small sample of many disturbing cases of non-fatal violence in the past year linked to ice include:
– A teenager who slashed a family man’s throat in a home burglary. He told police he was ice-affected.
– The bashing of two police officers whose assailant was not stopped until he was hit repeatedly with a torch and capsicum-sprayed twice.
– Two elderly men bashed at a suburban railway station by a mentally ill man on methamphetamine.
The overall level of methamphetamine deaths in Victoria rose by more than 100% in the most recent recorded year.
Coroners Court figures showed there were 34 deaths in 2012, up from 14 in 2010.
A prominent magistrate spoke out this month about his fears of the community damage caused by ice.
Magistrate Clive Allsop told a court that in some parts of Victoria it had reached epidemic proportions and was increasingly available in schools.
He said the number of people arrested for trafficking the drug trebled in the last two years and deaths were up 150% in that period.
“The message I’d like to get out is don’t have a bar of it. It appears to be more addictive than any substance we’ve seen before and it’s having disastrous consequences,” the South Gippsland Sentinel-Times reported Mr Allsop as saying.
Mr Fryer said analysis showed 14% of people who faced court on an amphetamine-related charge would commit a crime of violence in the three months either side of that offence and 42% would be involved in property crime.
He said part of the problem was that ice did not carry the stigma of heroin.
Mr Fryer said amphetamine sold from the 1970s and 1990s was generally between 3% and 5% pure, but ice was between 70% and 90%. “It is now driving, in part, our volume of violent crime,” he said.
Mr Fryer said Victoria Police was running several major taskforces with the Australian Federal Police, Australian Crime Commission and Customs to combat organised crime groups importing ice. “We used to do high-fives if we seized a kilo (of ice). We have hit div vans seizing a kilo (nowadays),” Mr Fryer said.
Rehabilitation counsellor Mick Hall said he had gone from working mostly with heroin addicts 10 years ago to running a practice dominated by people wanting help because of ice.
– Mark Buttler