OFFICERS in the Hunter Valley Police District are calling for a significant increase in their numbers dedicated to dealing with the region’s ice epidemic, which is destroying a generation of children and tearing families apart.
The Police Association of NSW released, on Monday, a list of crystal-meth regional hot spots – of which Hunter Valley is one – and is calling for an additional 1185 police in districts and commands across the state.
Based on incidents of use/possess amphetamines per 100,000 population, for the calendar year up to December 2017, Muswellbrook and Cessnock were named alongside Narrandera, Broken Hill, Gilgandra, Deniliquin, Moree Plains, Coonabarrabran, Tweed Byron and Goulburn Mulwaree.
The association is also calling for an additional 114 police designated to dedicated units to focus on interrupting the supply of the drug.
Police Association executive member for Northern 1 Ian Allwood said it was seeking an additional 61 officers for the Hunter Valley Police District – 34 at Cessnock and 27 in Muswellbrook.
“Every police officer knows how all-pervasive ice has become,” he explained.
“It dominates our work, it has links to domestic violence, mental health incidents, road fatalities, youth crime, house and business break-ins, organised crime and it is destroying lives.
“These are the symptoms of the prevalence of ice in our communities.
“Local police are so stretched that they’re drowning, just dealing with the symptoms of ice and users rather than focusing their efforts on the supply chain.
“All we can do at the moment is mop up the problems, rather than getting to the root of the issue and stopping the drugs before they hit out streets.
“That’s why we need additional police on our front line in the Hunter Valley – to deal with the hold ice has taken in our community.”
Mr Allwood admitted the force needed a doubling of police numbers in the Regional Enforcement Squads designed to disrupt and detect the manufacturers and suppliers of the horrible drug, too.
“The NSW Government has a choice – it can either sit back and watch while this drug continues to take hold of our communities, or it can listen to the police on the ground and deliver the additional resources we need to keep our streets safe,” he said.
“Ice is a problem everywhere in the state, but our regional areas are shouldering the brunt of the scourge.
“If we’re serious about tackling our ice problem, we need the resources to be able to focus on the drug dealers – the people pedalling this poison in our communities.
“Regional towns like ours need specialised, targeted plans and resources to deal with ice.
“When it comes to dedicated police resourcing to deal with drug crime, our regions are missing out.
“Our communities are crying out for action; and all we as police are asking for are the resources we need to keep our communities safe.”
The call for dedicated ice officers is part of the Back the Blue campaign for 2500 extra police across NSW.
“This really is about our local community here in Hunter Valley,” Mr Allwood said.
“We need the whole community to back our campaign for more police.”
To sign the petition, visit www.pansw.org.au