Police work to stamp out drug problem
STANTHORPE detective sergeant Damian Grace is adamant that the drug problem in Stanthorpe is no better or worse than anywhere else in the state.
However, with little property crime or other offences taking place in the district, Det Sgt Grace said drugs were the biggest issue for Stanthorpe police.
"We have a reasonably low crime rate compared to other places," Det Sgt Grace said.
"This means our police officers have the time to investigate and detect other offences, such as drug offences."
Det Sgt Grace said the fact that so many drug charges were dished out in Stanthorpe highlighted just how proactive the team of police here were.
"We are actively trying to put a stop to the problem in the community," he said.
Last week Stanthorpe police teamed up with officers from Wallangarra and the Toowoomba Tactical Crime Squad to conduct searches at 12 Stanthorpe residences.
It led to 14 people being charged with 30 drug offences.
Det Sgt Grace said they would not be able to make as many arrests as they did without the support of the community.
"We rely heavily on information from the community," he said.
"It most cases it is just another piece of the jigsaw puzzle. We combine it with the information we have already collected and previous information we have and work out where to go from there."
So far this year there have been 150 drug occurrences in Stanthorpe.
These cover everything from drug possession, possessing drug utensils, supplying drugs, drug production and possessing items used in the commission of a drug crime.
Det Sgt Grace said it was important to note that each drug occurrence could involve multiple charges.
He said the age of most offenders ranged from late teens to early 40s.
"But in the last six months we have had a couple of drug offenders in their 60s and 70s," Det Sgt Grace said.
In his 12 years as a police officer in Stanthorpe, Det Sgt Grace said he had seen many changes in regards to drugs in Stanthorpe.
Among these changes is the increase in the amount of dangerous and powdered drugs finding their way to Stanthorpe.
"We have noticed an increase in the use of amphetamines, ice and speed," Det Sgt Grace said.
"It is certainly concerning.
"They are harder to detect as they are kept in smaller amounts and used more quickly.
"We are worried about both the short and long term impacts the use of these drugs will have on users and the community."
Det Sgt Grace encouraged any community members with information or who had seen anything suspicious to report it.
"People know when something is right or wrong," he said.
"People need to contact us - we would rather have the chance to check it out and it be nothing than not be told and it turn out to be something.
"Just because people may not see immediate action does not mean that their information has been disregarded, and in most cases it wouldn't have been.
"In this, we are very dependent and reliant on the information that is provided to us by the local community.
"We are very thankful for the support that is shown to us by the community in this and otherwise, generally.
"We need continued community support in the provision of such information to maintain a tough position against drugs, drug use and its associated crime and anti-social problems within the local community."
He said the identity of those reporting the information would be kept confidential.
To report suspicious behaviour phone the Stanthorpe police on 46816400, Crime Stoppers on 1800333000 or Policelink on 131444.