LIBS STARTED 'SOFT' DRUG PROGRAM, SAYS GALLOP
Premier Geoff Gallop has hit back at claims his Government has a secret
policing program soft on illicit drugs.
But he conceded there should have been a public announcement when the
Federal Government's scheme of cautioning first offenders with hard drugs
was widened to include all the State.
The change lets people caught for the first time with up to half a gram of
amphetamines or heroin or up to two tablets of ecstasy or other drugs escape
criminal penalty by going to three counselling sessions.
"This is a Commonwealth initiative," Dr Gallop said yesterday. "It has been
funded by the Commonwealth and it allows for the diversion of people into
compulsory treatment. These sorts of programs are worth pursuing. There
should have been a public announcement, but it is not a secret plan."
Dr Gallop said he would await clear results from the program before deciding
"If the program is effective I believe we ought to continue with it," he
said. "But if it is not effective I will be the first to recommend its
Attorney-General Jim McGinty said the Government supported programs to get
small, first-time users off drugs and would seek an evaluation of the
initative to ensure it was effective. The diversion program was part of the
National Illicit Drug Strategy Initiatives agreed to by the Council of
Australian Governments five years ago.
It was funded by the Commonwealth and set up by the former coalition
The current State Government had not changed the program.
The decision to expand it statewide had been announced by then Coalition
Police Minister Kevin Prince in December 2000.
Police Minister Michele Roberts said the program was to protect people.
National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre information manager Paul Dillon
said giving people caught with small amounts of drugs a caution and
counselling sessions would reduce drug use by young people. "Just getting
caught and having the police officer write the ticket for a caution can be
enough to make a young person never try drugs again," he said.