Drug users in NSW are being arrested at record-high rates but the number of dealers and manufacturers nabbed remains stable, new crime statistics reveal.
Charges for cocaine use surged 55 per cent in the past two years while amphetamine use also spiked by almost 40 per cent, according to data from the Bureau of Crime Statistics and Research (BOCSAR) released on Wednesday.
Cannabis and narcotic use charges also rose, with ecstasy the only drug to buck the offence rate trend and remain stagnant over the period.
NSW Police Commissioner Andrew Scipione said the climb in drug use offences reflected targeted policing.
“NSW Police will continue to work hard to tackle the scourge of illegal drugs,” Mr Scipione said.
“We see time and time again the irreversible damage drugs have on individuals, their families and the wider community.”
The number of people busted for dealing, trafficking, cultivating or manufacturing most drugs remained steady in the past 24 months.
However, drug importation charges almost halved, while arrests of cannabis dealers and traffickers caught peddling their wares plunged by more than 30 per cent.
BOCSAR director Don Weatherburn said the continued growth in arrests for use and possession of amphetamines was alarming.
Dr Weatherburn said first-time arrests climbed by more than 70 per cent in the Coffs Harbour-Grafton area, the Shoalhaven, far west and the Murray.
“Over the last five years in NSW the number of first-time arrests for use and/or possession of amphetamines has risen by 60 per cent,” he said.
“Every part of the state is affected but some of the biggest increases have occurred in regional NSW.”
Police Minister Troy Grant said the rise in drug use was disappointing.
“The scourge of drug use across the state and particularly in regional areas is disheartening and I will continue to ensure police have the tools they need to crack down on crime,” said the former country copper.