12 October 2018

Police ask for public's help after three heroin related deaths in past week

| Lachlan Roberts
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Police have revealed there have been 13 drug-related deaths this year. File Photo

Three Canberrans have died from suspected heroin overdoses in the past week, with police calling for public assistance to crack down on the alarming spike and to rid the streets of drug dealers.

Police have revealed there have been 13 drug-related deaths this year with three occurring in the past week in Cook, the City and Conder – all suspected of being associated with heroin use.

Detective Acting Station Sergeant Mark Rowswell said police were alarmed by the spike and mentioned that seven drug-related deaths have occurred in the past three months.

“Unfortunately people do die from drug use, you don’t know what you’re getting when you get drugs. It can hurt you,” he said. “All drugs are dangerous. We don’t know what’s been mixed with them, we don’t know how they’ve been produced.”

Detective Rowswell said police were working to curb heroin use in conjunction with ACT Health and were also asking the public for help to rid Canberra’s streets of illicit drugs.

“This is not just a policing problem. Everyone needs to work together to try and help people in relation to heroin,” Detective Rowswell said.

“Police can’t do this alone. We can’t arrest our way out of this problem so we are calling on all members of the community to come forward with any information they have regarding the sale of heroin or any other illicit drugs in the ACT.

“These needless deaths leave a lasting impact on families, the first responders and the wider community. We will be relentless in our pursuit of those who are selling drugs in our suburbs. Any piece of information, no matter how big or small can be helpful.”

Police are urging anyone who may have any information about the sale and supply of illicit drugs to contact Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000, or via the Crime Stoppers ACT website. Information can be provided anonymously.

For information on support services call the Drug and Alcohol Help Line available 24-hours, 7 days a week on 6207 9977.

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Yep, when will we get some level headed politicians & police who actually want to serve & protect. Losing Michael Moore as a pollie will be a blow too – he is one of the only half decent people in ACT govt. to approach the matter with an understanding of the matter.

wodenresident6:57 pm 13 Oct 18

I would like to respectfully suggest a supervised injecting space for injecting drug users.

The notion of a drug free society is a fantasy.

The police, who I can only speak highly of in the ACT, are not medical professionals. Why do we expect them to solve what is essentially a health, medical and addiction problem?

We don’t arrest supermarkets for selling lollies to people with diabetes, why do we expect the same approach to work with drug users and suppliers?

What will it take for politicians to ignore those with a vested interest in the drug war and listen to the medical professionals and the mounting evidence that harm minimisation is the way forward.

What scares me most is that I am a parent, drugs are a reality and I do not want my child to die experimenting with drugs. Especially when there are other options to abstinence and law enforcement.

When are governments going to held accountable for thier inaction or inability to deliver something meaningful in the realm of drug policy.

petunia petal7:11 pm 14 Oct 18

This is the problem. Very few policies, particularly at the Federal level but also locally are backed by a strong evidence base. We have politicians who just won’t stand firm on advocating for policy based on science or research and almost no advisors in politicians offices have any actual background experience or knowledge of the portfolios they control. Instead, the Daily Terrorgraph, radio shock jocks and lazy journalists looking for confected outrage control the narrative around these issues.

Capital Retro7:58 am 16 Oct 18

I am not an expert on illegal drugs but I am wondering how an injecting space would be helpful to cocaine users.

Last time I checked, cocaine was “snorted”.

transaustralia6:11 pm 09 Nov 18

Yes it’s the only humane path to take. Drugs are more widely available than many people would believe, and certainly not only around areas like Civic. It seems pointless to give greater resourcing weight to the law side rather than harm reduction, treatments or even simply moving away from the prohibition focused approach.

HardBallGets9:43 am 13 Oct 18

“We can’t arrest our way out of this problem so we are calling on all members of the community to come forward with any information they have regarding the sale of heroin or any other illicit drugs in the ACT” … umm, so we can arrest more people?

Detective Rowswell was doing so well before defaulting back to the failed tough on drugs rhetoric. Yes, there is a role for supply reduction, but that sentence should read “we can’t arrest our way out of this problem … so we need to look to sensible evidence-based drug law reform – the kinds of changes that have been and are being made around the world to reduce the harms from illicit drugs and failed war on people who use them.”

Richard Stanton7:30 pm 13 Oct 18

The problem the police have is that they are merely there to enforce the law not to decide which ones are dumb.

I agree wholeheartedly that we need a complete change in drug laws: addiction to drugs should be seen as a health problem and reducing amounts prescribed along with free counseling (the latter is currently available in the ACT).

Drugs like cannabis should be made available in a similar way to alcohol: sold subject to certain conditions such as age, an implicit promise that they won’t be excessively used when driving and being considered an aggravating factor when used during committing another crime (e.g. spousal abuse).

Prohibition doesn’t work.

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