Ice arrests surge on NSW North Coast

THE North Coast is falling into the ice epidemic's grip with steep increases in arrests for amphetamine possession.

Police recorded a 40% surge in arrests in the Tweed-Byron region over the two years to June.

The Bureau of Crime Statistics and Research found Tweed-Byron had the seventh highest per capita rate of possession charges out of the state's 28 regions.

Coffs-Clarence authorities saw a 14% increase over the same period - still less than the state average of 38%.

John Mundy, executive director of North Coast drug treatment organisation The Buttery, said the region was crying out for more services to help those caught in addiction.

The NSW Government has announced new dedicated ice rehabilitation clinics would be opened around the state, but a project tipped for the North Coast is yet to go to tender.

Mr Mundy said The Buttery would apply for the contract when it was announced.

"We've certainly seen an increase in people coming in with ice as the drug they use," he said.

"A lot of people don't just use one particular drug. They tend to mix and match, which just creates bigger problems.

"I'm not sure what the timetable is. They have gone to tender for Dubbo outwards, the Wagga area and the Southern Highlands.

"Then I think they will roll the program out across all the local health districts.

"There is a lot of promise but nothing really happening just yet."

The only good news was cocaine arrests remained stable.

Sydney's city and inner-south suburbs were the state's hotspots for amphetamine charges with 45 out of every 10,000 people being caught with the drug.

The figure was more than 3.5 times higher than Tweed-Byron and 4.4 times more than that of Coffs-Clarence.

Mr Mundy said The Buttery always operated at capacity and needed more space to expand its services.

"I have people on the phone begging me to get their relatives into the programs, but it's not fair to do someone favours," he said.

"We base it on how they stack up on the waiting list.

"It breaks my heart."

BOCSAR researchers also found seven out of 10 NSW juveniles convicted of drug offences in 2004 were reconvicted of another offence within the next decade.

Adults were slightly less likely to re-offend, with 63% facing the courts again within 10 years of their original conviction.

-APN NEWSDESK



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