Police echo calls for drug court at Dubbo

CRIME would be reduced at Dubbo if a specialist court was available to address drug dependency resulting in criminal offending.

That is the view of high-ranking police officers who have backed Magistrate Andrew Eckhold's call for the creation of a drug court at Dubbo.

Orana Local Area Command crime manager Detective Inspector Rod Blackman and former drug court prosecutor acting Inspector Adam Wood said the success of drug courts had been well documented.

"We would support any system that intervenes and breaks the cycle of recidivism," they said.

"Drug courts aim to help drug-dependent offenders to overcome both their drug dependence and their criminal offending. We have seen evidence of the positive results these courts have achieved.''

Drug courts have emerged in a number of countries as a result of growing disenchantment with the ability of traditional criminal justice approaches to provide long-term solutions to the cycle of drug use and crime.

In NSW drug courts sit in two locations - Parramatta and Toronto.

They take local and district court referrals of offenders who are dependent on drugs and considered eligible for a drug court program.

"Drug courts adopt a therapeutic case management approach rather than a punitive approach,'' acting Inspector Wood said.

"They work in conjunction with the probation and parole service, the department of health, Aboriginal Legal Service and Legal Aid.

"Participants are subject to weekly urine testing. If testing shows drugs are still being used offenders can be penalised by having to go into jail while still taking part in the drug court process.

"Offenders initially report to the drug court weekly. Reporting is extended to fortnightly and finally monthly.''

Detective Inspector Blackman said there was plenty of evidence supporting drug use as a significant causal crime factor in Dubbo and surrounds.

"It's the same story in most communities,'' he said.

"Oxycodone-based products are a well-documented concern locally, nationally and globally.''

The opioid prescription painkiller, commonly known as hillbilly heroin, is sold in tablet form as quick-acting Endone and the more powerful slow-release OxyContin.

Associated narcotics are available as a patch under the brand names Durogesic and Norspan.

Oxycodone is highly restricted under Schedule 1 of the Misuse and Trafficking Act and Schedule 8 of the Poisons and Therapeutic Goods Act.

Without a valid and legitimate prescription its possession, supply and use is a criminal offence.

Along with benzodiazepines, oxycodone has become a sought -after drug for unauthorised or criminal use in communities across Australia.

"NSW Police and Orana Local Area Command are well aware of the abuse of these drugs and proactively pursue those who offend the legislation,'' Detective Inspector Blackman said.

"Additionally, NSW Police have a number of joint agency strategies to combat the problem.''

Detective Inspector Blackman said oxycodone-related crime was part of the Dubbo community.

"Methamphetamines and cannabis are also ongoing problems,'' he said. "There have been detections locally of everything from cocaine to heroin.''

heather.crosby@fairfaxmedia.com.au

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