Police back calls for 'therapeutic' justice model
CALLS for a Drug Court on the Northern Rivers have been supported by police.
Richmond Police District Superintendent Toby Lindsay was among those who spoke to the Special Commission of Inquiry into the Drug Ice when it came to Lismore last week.
Supt Lindsay told The Northern Star the Northern Rivers would benefit from more rehabilitation and education services, as well as continued enforcement of drugs including methylamphetamine and amphetamine-type stimulants.
"We also support the introduction of a dedicated Drug Court within the Northern Rivers, which would provide a consolidated approach to diversion, corrections and support as it relates to methylamphetamine and ATS.
"This has been really successful in other areas."
Supt Lindsay said "further co-ordination of efforts across government and non-government agencies", including in diversion programs for at-risk youth, could also help.
Lismore lawyer, councillor and chair of the Social Justice and Crime Prevention Committee, Eddie Lloyd, told the commission the Parramatta Drug Court had been shown to "work in reducing recidivism and rehabilitating people".
A NSW Bureau of Crime Statistics and Research re-evaluation of the NSW Drug Court, the report for which was published last year, found it was "more cost-effective than prison in reducing the rate of re-offending among offenders whose crime is drug related".
The commission also heard of an increase in "severely behaviourally disturbed" drug-affected patients at hospitals in recent years and a paramedic spoke of an increase in "distressing" jobs involving young people affected by ice.
Lismore MP Janelle Saffin said it was important for Lismore that the inquiry visited the region.
"It meant that they recognised that within our community we do have a major problem ... and they've listened now to a whole range of people."
She also said a Drug Court would be welcome in Lismore and could run out of existing facilities.
"A drug court can actually apply therapeutic justice and that does make a difference," she said.
"We shouldn't be disadvantaged justice-wise due to our geography."
The commission will head to Nowra at the end of this month before visiting Dubbo in June.
For more info visit www.iceinquiry.nsw.gov.au.