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Commonwealth combats amphetamine use.



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Media Release

SENATOR THE HON. CHRISTOPHER ELLISON

Minister for Justice and Customs Senator for Western Australia

29 May 2002

COMMONWEALTH COMBATS AMPHETAMINE USE

Record seizures of amphetamines are a clear demonstration that the Federal Government and Australian law enforcement agencies are committed to preventing amphetamines and other dangerous substances from entering Australia, the Minister for Justice and Customs, Senator Chris Ellison, said today.

Senator Ellison was commenting on a crime fact sheet released by the Australian Institute of Criminology (AIC) which showed that amphetamine use is increasing among police detainees.

"While seizures are at a record level, the Commonwealth Government has recognised this increasing trend and is taking effective measures to address the problem" Senator Ellison said.

The fact sheet, undertaken as part of the Commonwealth funded Drug Use Monitoring in Australia (DUMA) project, was based on data from voluntary interviews of police detainees on their drug use and criminal history as well as providing a urine specimen. DUMA testing occurs within 48 hours of an offender’s arrest at police stations in East Perth in Western Australia, Bankstown and Parramatta in New South Wales and Southport in Queensland.

"Trend data from the report show that adult male detainees in East Perth have recorded the highest use of amphetamines, with more than 35 percent testing positive since the beginning of 2000.

"This is of significant concern not only in respect to the harm users do to themselves but the increased risk that they will pose a danger to the community when under the influence of these drugs. The continuing and rising popularity of amphetamines is also likely to lead to an increase in large-scale importations. In addition, unlike heroin, which is not produced in Australia, amphetamines can also be manufactured in backyard laboratories," Senator Ellison said.

Senator Ellison said the Government and Commonwealth law enforcement agencies remain firmly committed to protecting our borders and keeping illicit drugs away from our streets.

"In responding to this emerging problem, in the recent Federal Budget, the Government committed $4.7 million to expand the National Heroin Signature Programme (NHSP) to include the profiling of cocaine and amphetamine-type stimulants. This builds on the drug targeting operations of the Australian Federal Police (AFP) and the Government’s commitment to its Tough on Drugs Strategy."

"This additional capacity will enable the AFP to construct an intelligence picture of where heroin, cocaine and amphetamines are coming from, identify trends and assist in better targeting police resources to further increase the seizure of all drugs," Senator Ellison said.

Since the National Illicit Drug Strategy commenced the AFP, with other law enforcement agencies, have prevented nearly seven tonnes of drugs from reaching Australian streets. This includes 2,102 kg of heroin, 2,632 kg of cocaine, 1,349 kg of MDMA and 911kg of amphetamines. Earlier this week, approximately 10kg of MDMA (also known as ecstasy) was seized at Sydney Airport by Customs Officers.

"Whilst there are still many challenges ahead, the Howard Government will never compromise in the fight against drugs and will continue to send a clear message to those in the drug trade that it will continue to give high priority to drug law enforcement and emerging threats to our community." Senator Ellison said.

The report, DUMA Shows Amphetamine Use On Increase, is available on the AIC’s website at www.aic.gov.au.

Media Inquiries: Donna Taylor 02/6277 2760 or 0409 240 254

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