It’s a crime line, pain to pleasure
DRUG offences continue to top the list of most commonly reported crimes in Stanthorpe, according to the latest statistics released by the State Government.
Nearly 190 drug-related offences were reported locally last year, however Stanthorpe police officer in charge Senior Sergeant Mark Ireland said the figures could reflect a bigger push on drug- targeted police operations in 2013.
"We've worked hard last year on proactive drug-related operations, so naturally that's going to affect the figures," he said.
"It doesn't necessarily mean there's more drug activity, it could just mean police are being more proactive.
"There's also more detection now - for example we'd never had drug-testing units before."
However, Snr Sgt Ireland did not deny that drug and alcohol abuse was certainly a major issue in the community, particularly for those in the 16 to 30 years age group.
"Drugs and alcohol are the biggest issues," he said.
"Cannabis appears readily available anywhere, but there's also a lot more amphetamines - not just in Stanthorpe but across the board."
Without understating the seriousness of drug abuse, Snr Sgt Ireland warned people not to underestimate the effects of alcohol.
"Drugs are bad, but on a day-to-day basis alcohol can be just as bad," he said.
"When we look at offences, the vast majority of those people are intoxicated on alcohol more-so than drugs.
"An alarming trend I can't understand is the criminal code says alcohol is no excuse, but the majority of times someone appears in court for assault, legal defence claim, 'My client was intoxicated'.
"If alcohol is no excuse, I question whether that should be taken into account at all."
Drug Arm clinical worker David Entermann agreed alcohol was the "number one drug of concern", but urged people not to jump to conclusions about illicit drug users, whom he says are often acting on human instinct.
"We have stereotypes of drug users as individuals who are seedy in their nature," he said.
"But a lot of people...their only crime is possessing an illicit substance - they haven't been convicted of crimes of dishonesty.
"What we see is very human behaviour.
"Human beings move away from pain towards pleasure - it's just what people do."
In a positive step for the region, Mr Entermann said more people were seeking help from Drug Arm.
"The number of people who are seeking assistance to make change has grown. I don't know whether that equals more drug usage. I don't think so," he said.
"There's a cohort growing older who are no longer quite as ambivalent about their drug use. The harms are starting to outweigh the benefits."
Phone Drug Arm on 46814241 to help overcome drug abuse.
In 2013, the five most commonly reported offences in Stanthorpe were:
- Drug offences
- Good order offences (including disobey move-on direction, obstruct police, fare evasion and public nuisance)
- Vehicle offences (steal from/enter with intent)