Prof Dan Howard (former deputy senior crown prosecutor), the author of a landmark report into drug addiction in New South Wales believes the government’s “tough on crime” approach to a spate of shootings is destined to fail unless it dramatically overhauls funding for rehabilitation and treatment.
The report, commissioned by former premier Gladys Berejiklian and suggested that criminalisation of drug users is a flaw in the NSW justice system and recommended the complete decriminalisation of drug possession in the state.
Police have repeatedly expressed concern about disputes between organised crime groups over distribution and importation of illicit drugs into Australia, including heroin, ice and cocaine.
Howard said the “failure” to address addiction “misses a major opportunity to reduce demand for drug supply, and so plays into the hands of dealers and traffickers”.
While he acknowledged tackling organised crime was “tough”, he said failing to deal with the drivers of addiction such as poverty, a history of trauma and abuse was a missed opportunity.
“Penalising use and possession of drugs discourages persons who have a drug problem from coming forward and seeking treatment, for fear of being prosecuted and having a criminal record with all the adverse consequences that can flow from that,” he said.
NSW Premier Dominic Perrottet, assured there would be a response shortly to the report (given we’ve waited 2.5yrs), admitting there are competing views in cabinet over the inquiry.
Certainly I will be interested to hear this response.
‘Complete lack of political courage’: as NSW drugs war rages, expert renews decriminalisation push | New South Wales | The Guardian