Tasmania’s drug related-deaths ‘completely out of control’, Crime Stoppers says


Posted

December 19, 2018 15:08:33

New figures show about one person in Tasmania is dying as a direct result of a drug overdose every week, and greater Hobart has the second highest rate of drug-induced deaths in the nation.

Key points:

  • 52 Tasmanians died from drug-related deaths last year
  • Police are targeting dealers, not users in new campaign
  • Tasmanians being urged to “dob in a dealer”

The new figures from the Australian Bureau of Statistics show there were 52 drug-induced deaths in Tasmania in 2016.

Out of the 52 deaths, 27 were in the greater Hobart area.

Crime Stoppers Tasmania chair David Daniels pointed out more Tasmanians now die from drug overdoses than on the state’s roads.

“This is not only very sad but a major concern,” he said.

“To put this in perspective, drug-induced deaths were even higher than road fatalities with 36 Tasmanian dying on our roads in 2016.

“What is most distressing is that drug-induced deaths are avoidable.”

Black market prescription medication biggest killer

The ABS Causes of Deaths, Australia shows that drug-induced deaths are responsible for 11.5 per 100,000 deaths in greater Hobart, the highest rate in the country, while Perth is the next with 9.8 per 100,000.

The statistics exclude alcohol and tobacco, but include prescription and over-the-counter drugs.

The figures show nationally about 68 per cent of deaths were a result of prescription drugs such as Temazepam, Codeine, and Oxycodone.

Tasmanian drug squad boss Detective Inspector Colin Riley said police were aware there is a black-market in prescription medication in Tasmania.

“The drugs are not just illicit drugs, it’s redirection of prescribed medication … if you look at the demographics of Tasmania we have an older population and there are prescription drugs that are potentially being redirected to illegal use,” Detective Riley said.

“So we’re looking across that whole spectrum of drug usage.

“Anecdotally it is a case of redirection to make money and also theft – there’s a bit of both of those.”

But police said a growing concern is the use of illegal drug ice in the state.

The ABS figures show amphetamine, ecstasy, MDA, MDMA, speed, methamphetamine, ice, caffeine were responsible for about 20 per cent of deaths nationally.

“The reason ice is so concerning is that it is like taking something that has barbs, so every time you take it, you need more of that product to get the same effect,” Detective Inspector Riley said.

“Then once you’re trapped in that cycle, it’s very hard to get out.

“And then you have the whole ripple effect, not only the death of the user, but it’s the family and the extended family that actually suffer from it.”

Dealers, not users, in police sights

Police and Crime Stoppers have used the release of the ABS figures to launch a new “dob in a dealer” campaign — encouraging the community to report the importation and distribution of drugs in a bid to reduce the death toll.

“We’re not interested in targeting users, we’ve got very good diversion systems in place where users can get education and health support,” said Detective Riley.

“We’re targeting those people that are making money out of importing, distributing and trafficking illicit drugs in the community.

“We might get a piece of information that looks a little bit vague, but once you get three of four pieces of information like that, it enables us to take action.

“The information we get from Crime Stoppers actually helps us direct our effort — we don’t have all the answers and we can only be as effective as the information that’s coming in from the community.

“The more information we get, it’s pieces to a puzzle. We then put the puzzle together.”

Mr Daniels said a zero death toll from drugs was probably unrealistic, but that the current rate was “out of control” and the community needed to do their bit to reign it in.

He said a campaign similar to “dob in a dealer” held in Launceston last month had resulted in a a four-fold increase in the number of reports to Crime Stoppers.

“All organisations need to work together to reduce those casualties and by going out to the community and asking them to support us with the information,” Mr Daniels said.

“Fifty-two [deaths] for the year is totally out of control.

“We can remove the supply of drugs and help save Tasmanian lives in our communities by informing on those dealing drugs.”

Topics:

drug-offences,

drugs-and-substance-abuse,

drug-use,

hobart-7000,

launceston-7250,

burnie-7320,

tas



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