Pubdate: Wed, 28 Feb 2001
Source: Sydney Morning Herald (Australia)
Copyright: 2001 The Sydney Morning Herald
Contact:  GPO Box 3771, Sydney NSW 2001
Fax: 61-(0)2-9282 3492
Author: Linda Doherty


Assistant Commissioner Clive Small yesterday called for greater police 
powers to clear drug users from the streets of Cabramatta.

Mr Small, commander of the Greater Hume region, which covers Cabramatta, 
told the parliamentary inquiry he was discussing with the Police Minister, 
Mr Whelan, options to remove drug users because there was no such provision 
under current laws.

"It's a very difficult situation and we need some new initiatives to deal 
with what I call the residue of the drug problem," he said.

Mr Small, who introduced a get-tough approach to drugs shortly after he 
took command on January 1, conceded there had been serious internal 
problems at the Cabramatta police command that had affected officers and 
the community.

His new regional strategy includes targeting, charging and possibly jailing 
users who openly inject or buy drugs. Strikeforce Scottsville recently 
identified 40 home units currently used for drug-dealing, and evicted 24 
dealers from 20 units.

"The difficulty we're reaching now ... is that drug users - not suppliers - 
are actually taking more time to buy drugs and, therefore, they're spending 
more time on the streets and in one sense they're becoming more obvious," 
he said.

"Part of the discussion I'm having with the minister and others are options 
for removing and dealing with this problem of drug users [for whom], at the 
moment, there is no law against.

"It is not an offence to stand somewhere [with the intention of buying 
drugs] and that's the difficulty we're facing. There have been a number of 
options put."

Mr Whelan said a range of initiatives was being considered by the Police 
Service and other government departments but discussions were at a "very 
preliminary stage".

Mr Small said major factors affecting his region were the "large number of 
very young police" who required training, and "internal fighting" within 
the Cabramatta command in the past two years including no-confidence 
motions against the former local area commander, Superintendent Peter Horton.

"It is clear from my knowledge ... that there were in times gone past, 
there were serious problems at Cabramatta," Mr Small said.
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