27 September 2023

Police take new approach to minor drug offenders

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Queensland Police Service’s Drug Diversion Program is to be expanded to include the minor possession of all types of drugs in a new, tiered approach.

For a first minor drug-possession offence, an officer will issue a warning, accompanied by a drug warning notice and a police referral to a support service.

For a second and third minor drug-possession offence an officer will offer the opportunity for the person to participate in a mandatory Drug Diversion Assessment Program.

For a fourth minor drug-possession offence, the officer will issue the offender with a notice to appear in court.

Minister for Police and Corrective Services, Mark Ryan said the changes were about helping people who are often young, deal with a health issue.

“Currently Police have the power to divert people found with small quantities of cannabis to a drug diversion assessment program,” Mr Ryan said.

“This new legislation will extend that power to other drugs, providing the tiered health response,” he said.

“It brings Queensland in line with all other jurisdictions across the nation.”

He said the courts became needlessly clogged with minor cases that were really a health issue.

“The individual doesn’t get the help they need and police spend thousands of hours that could be better focused on targeting drug traffickers,” the Minister said.

“It’s a common-sense approach.”

Police Commissioner, Katarina Carroll said she wanted the reform because research showed that if you diverted people early to health and education services they were less likely to reoffend.

“I know that my esteemed predecessors as Police Commissioner also wholeheartedly back this reform. It just makes sense,” Commissioner Carroll said.

“Police will continue their tough enforcement action in taking dangerous drugs off the streets of Queensland,” she said.

“By expanding drug diversion for minor offences, officers will be able to target drug manufacturers and traffickers domestically and internationally.”

Meanwhile, pill testing services are to be allowed in Queensland for the first time as part of a Government commitment to reduce risks and harm associated with illicit drug use.

Minister for Health and Ambulance Services, Yvette D’Ath said pill-testing services, at either fixed or mobile sites, would chemically test illicit drugs to check for the presence of potentially dangerous substances and chemical compounds.

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