Pubdate: Wed, 18 Jul 2007
Source: Chronicle Herald (CN NS)
Copyright: 2007 The Halifax Herald Limited
Author: Jennifer Stewart, Staff Reporter


Police, Health Officials Differ On Reasons

The police say it's more enforcement. Health officials argue there are
simply more cocaine users to bust.

New crime statistics released Wednesday show that the number of
cocaine-related arrests made in Nova Scotia has almost doubled since

According to the 2006 study by Statistics Canada, officers laid a
whopping 48 per cent more charges stemming from the possession, use
and distribution of cocaine and crack cocaine in the province.

Police insist the jump is due to increased surveillance and police
presence, but staff at an addictions treatment centre in New Minas
believe the use of cocaine is on the rise.

George Libby, program director for Crosbie House Society, said
Wednesday he is seeing more and more people fall victim to the drug.

"From my own point of view here, we do see a lot," said Mr. Libby, who
worked for 24 years with the province's addictions services program.
He's been with Crosbie House, a privately run treatment centre, for a
little more than a year.

"It's more than we had three years ago," he said, referring to the
number of people seeking treatment for addictions to cocaine and crack.

Lucas Wide, spokesman for the Department of Health Promotion and
Protection, said their most recent statistics show that in 2004, 1.14
per cent of 1,000 Nova Scotians polled had tried either cocaine, crack
or ecstasy. He said that was up significantly from 1994 when the use
of these drugs "didn't even register as being statistically

According to the national study, overall drug crime in Nova Scotia
stayed about the same in 2006, although there was a nine per cent drop
in the number of marijuana-related arrests.

But the hot topic for most was still cocaine.

A Halifax Regional Police spokesman said the study doesn't necessarily
mean an increase in cocaine use, but rather that the number of charges
laid has jumped since 2005.

Const. Jeff Carr said the primary cocaine-related charges --
possession, trafficking and conspiracy -- are often laid following
months of police surveillance.

"It doesn't mean that there's more cocaine around," he explained.
"What it means is we conducted more enforcement over that time period
and made more arrests."

Whether it's the doing or dealing of the drug, Justice Minister Murray
Scott said cocaine is an issue that Nova Scotia needs to address

"I think we all realize and continue to realize as a community that
drugs is a growing problem," Mr. Scott told reporters after a cabinet
meeting Wednesday morning.

"It's how we respond to that and how we deal with those issues. I
think we have to take a real proactive approach, as we have been
trying to do,   particularly in the area of enforcement."

In 2007, the province added 80 new police officers, part of a
four-year commitment to introduce 250 more officers across Nova Scotia.

"A lot of the departments and jurisdictions of this province are
allocating resources to street crime units," Mr. Scott said. "I've
talked to them about putting additional pressure with regard to the
issue of drugs in our communities."

In a release put out later in the day, Mr. Scott said they're working
with other departments and law enforcement agencies to develop a
comprehensive drug strategy that would target drug-related crime in
Nova Scotia.

The strategy has already proved to be a success, Mr. Murray

Earlier this year, the province launched the Public Safety
Investigative Unit, which in the past few months has shut down seven
sites of major criminal drug activity in the Pictou and HRM areas. The
busts were made in response to complaints from the community.

Mr. Scott said Nova Scotia's complete drug strategy will be unveiled
in the next few months.

For a complete copy of the 2006 crime statistics for Nova Scotia and
Canada, go to
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