Victoria’s police chief has seen nothing like ice for the damage a drug can cause and, he says, no part of the state has been spared from its impact.
Chief Commissioner Ken Lay says ice – or crystal methamphetamine – has emerged as a major driver of family violence, assaults and robberies as well as attacks on police and medical personnel.
Country and city areas were affected, he said, on a level not experienced for any other drug of addiction.
“Ice is an enormous problem for us,” Mr Lay told reporters as the latest Victorian crime statistics were released.
“I have not seen the amount of harm from other drugs, like heroin or cannabis or amphetamines like I’m seeing around ice.
“If you look at family violence, and the level of violence that occurs, that can all be tied back to ice.”
Mr Lay said of the 101 clandestine drug labs uncovered in Victoria this year, 90 per cent were producing ice or amphetamines such as speed.
Ice was now the substance of choice for many drug users, he said, in spite of its notoriety for causing rapid addiction.
“When once we could say that country Victoria and small rural towns seemed to be immune, we are seeing this drug doing an enormous amount of damage in country Victoria,” Mr Lay said.
“We haven’t seen anything like it.”
The Victorian opposition on Wednesday pledged to introduce new offences targeting each link in the ice supply chain, should it win office in November.
Jail terms of up to 25 years would be introduced for new crimes which would specifically outlaw possessing the ice recipe, selling ice near schools or to students, or using stand-over tactics to get another person to sell ice.
A person could also be jailed for knowingly allowing their property – such as a rental home or nightclub – to be used for the manufacture or sale of ice.
The Victorian government said it was open to bringing in new and tougher ice-specific offences.
Mr Lay said the solution was not tougher laws alone, and Victoria Police must become more sophisticated and better at understanding and breaking up the criminal networks behind the ice supply.
“We cannot arrest our way out of the ice problem,” he said.