Superintendent Daryl Clifton, division commander of Barwon South-Western Region and 40-year veteran of Victoria Police is helping mobilise the local community and break the grip of ice in the Geelong and Barwon regions.
I have been in the police force for 40 years, and during that time I’ve seen different drugs come and go. But in my 40 years I’ve never seen anything like ice. In Australia, the drug is so pure and so it affects people’s behaviour and judgment and their thinking. If you took a shot of heroin it would more than likely put you to sleep in the corner – but not ice. Ice is an upper, a methamphetamine in the same family as ecstasy and speed. When people go on an ice binge they become violent and irrational.
Ice is impacting seriously on our youth crime and it’s affecting our volume crime – and by that I mean high-volume crimes such as theft from motor car, theft of motor car and burglaries. A person on ice doesn’t go out and commit one or two burglaries – they commit 10 or 20 burglaries at a time.
And with ice we are seeing a lot of first-time offenders. These people have never come to the notice of police before, but because they’ve become addicted to this drug they are being charged with a 100 thefts or more as their first-ever offence.
We’ve now got a growing body of evidence and data that suggest ice is impacting on the safety and harm visited on our communities. We know 35 per cent* of our family violence issues surround ice. We know that about 34 per cent* of our road trauma is caused by ice. And we know ice is responsible for 70 to 80 per cent* of burglaries and thefts from motor cars.
The catalyst for the police to be involved is to lessen these impacts on the community. The more people we can prevent using this drug, the more we prevent harm and crime down the track. We know we can’t police our way out of this issue – we have to do something to educate people to prevent it instead.
So a number of people within the community and from local government and government agencies decided to come together and do something about ice in our community. We formed a collective of local governments, government departments and 800 local businesses and coterie groups that have come together to have a community impact effort.
We’ve put together 14 education and prevention programs for sport, employers, and education and youth that will go across the greater Geelong community over the next 12 months. And parents need to have honest and open conversations with their kids about taking drugs and the extreme effects of ice.
Our Town’s Ice Fight (www.icefight.com.au) is all about education and prevention because the only way to fix this problem is to stop people taking ice in the first place.
* Statistics for the Barwon South-Western region.
Superintendent Daryl Clifton was interviewed by Sarah Marinos