Special Commission Of Inquiry Into The Drug ‘Ice’

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Special Commission of Inquiryinto the Drug ‘Ice’Legal Aid NSW submission inresponse to Issues Paper 2 JusticeMay 2019323 CASTLEREAGH STHAYMARKET NSW 2000 / DX 5 SYDNEY

Table of ContentsDrug problems among Legal Aid NSW clients . 3International conventions 7Penalty notices8Expansion of the cannabis cautioning scheme 10Wider application 10Mandatory counselling or education11Categorisation of drugs12Drug driving 12Drug Searches16Controlled operations16Drug Court 18Compulsory Drug Treatment Program19MERIT20Work and development orders21Drug rehabilitation services for young offenders 22Youth Drug and Alcohol Court22MERIT type diversion in the Children’s Court23Young Offenders Act23Youth on Track23Youth Koori Court 23Their Futures Matter25Barriers to accessing diversionary programs . 25Lack of quality services25Cost to patients26Waiting lists and waiting times for gaining entry 26Pre entry conditions26Mandatory detoxification 27Lack of culturally appropriate services27Lack of services in regional, rural and remote areas . 27Barriers to access for people in custody . 28Justice Reinvestment . 30ATS use and custody . 31Post custodial support and community based sentences . 311

About Legal Aid NSWThe Legal Aid Commission of New SouthWales (Legal Aid NSW) is anindependent statutory body establishedunder the Legal Aid Commission Act1979 (NSW). We provide legal servicesacross New South Wales through a statewide network of 24 offices and 221regular outreach locations, with aparticular focus on the needs of peoplewho are socially and economicallydisadvantaged.We assist with legal problems through acomprehensive suite of services acrosscriminal, family and civil law. Our servicesrange from legal information, education,advice, minor assistance, disputeresolution and duty services, through toan extensive litigation practice. We workin partnership with private lawyers whoreceive funding from Legal Aid NSW torepresent legally aided clients.We also work in close partnership withLawAccess NSW, community legalcentres, the Aboriginal Legal Service(NSW/ACT) Limited and pro bono legalservices. Our community partnershipsinclude 29 Women’s Domestic ViolenceCourt Advocacy Services.Legal Aid NSW’s Cooperative LegalService Delivery Program comprises 12regional justice partnerships acrossregional and remote NSW. The aim of thepartnerships is to improve access tojustice for disadvantaged people inregional and remote areas.Our civil and family lawyers are alsoproviding outreach to drug and alcoholservices. Our Work and DevelopmentOrder (WDO) Service assists not-for-profitorganisations,governmentagencies and health practitioners tobecome WDO sponsors, and providesfines advice and WDO referrals to clientsat specialist clinics and outreach eventsin regional locations.The Legal Aid NSW Children’s Civil LawService provides a targeted and holisticlegal service to young people identifiedas having complex needs, and assistschildren in the Youth Koori Court.The Criminal Law Division assists peoplecharged with criminal offences appearingbefore the Local Court, Children’s Court,District Court, Supreme Court, Court ofCriminal Appeal and the High Court. TheCriminal Law Division also providesadvice and representation in specialistjurisdictions including the State ParoleAuthority, Drug Court and, previously, theYouth Drug and Alcohol Court. OurPrisoner’s Legal Service offers a range oflegal services to prisoners.Legal Aid NSW also operates a ClientAssessment and Referral Service, whichhas expertise in substance abuse issues.Legal Aid NSW welcomes the opportunityto make a submission to the SpecialCommission of Inquiry into the Drug ‘Ice’.Should you require any furtherinformation, please contact:Aaron TangSenior Law Reform Officer,Policy, Planning and Programs(02) 9219 5052aaron.tang@legalaid.nsw.gov.au2

IntroductionLegal Aid NSW welcomes the opportunity to contribute to the Special Commission ofInquiry into the Drug ‘Ice’.Legal Aid NSW has a broad range of experience in matters associated with drug use,across multiple practice areas. As discussed below, a significant proportion of our clientsuse or abuse alcohol and/or drugs – including Amphetamine Type Stimulants (ATS) – andwe offer a range of services for such clients. Over recent years, we have seen a growingtrend of ATS use amongst our clients.Many of our clients have an urgent need for assistance to overcome their drug problems,but face barriers accessing the services they need. Services are difficult to access inmetropolitan areas, and are more difficult to access in non-metropolitan areas (ie regional,rural or remote areas). Particular challenges exist for clients in custody, Aboriginal andTorres Strait Islander1 clients and young people.Drug problems among Legal Aid NSW clientsDrug and alcohol use is a significant underlying issue for a large proportion of Legal AidNSW clients and, in particular, the use of ATS has become increasingly prevalent. In 2013we examined our 50 most frequent users of legal aid services between July 2005 andJune 2010.2 Three quarters of these ‘high service users’ had used drugs and/or alcohol.Twenty per cent had accessed treatment for drug and alcohol addiction. Most of thefrequent users had complex needs—nearly half had received a mental health diagnosis.About half had a primary carer who had experienced drug and/or alcohol issues.A high proportion of frequent users were children/young people with complex needs, manyof whom had contact with both the criminal justice system and the care and protectionsystem. In response to their needs, Legal Aid NSW established the Children’s Civil LawService and a criminal law High Services Users position of the Children’s Legal Service towork collaboratively in providing holistic services to children.Many of Legal Aid NSW’s criminal law clients have matters associated with drug use.People in prison are highly likely to have used drugs prior to detention. A survey ofprisoners in 2015 found that 67 per cent of prison entrants reported illicit drug use duringthe previous 12 months.3 In 2012, the most commonly reported illicit drug used wascannabis. However in 2015, the most commonly reported illicit drug used wasmethamphetamine, with 50 per cent reporting having used this drug. 41References in this submission to Aboriginal people include both Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanderpeople.2 Legal Aid NSW, High service users at Legal Aid NSW, (2013) 3-4.3 Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, The health of Australia’s prisoners 2015 (2015) (AIHW) 96.4 AIHW 97.3

Prison entrants were two to three times more likely than members of the generalcommunity to report recent illicit drug use, 5 and were 10 times more likely to report usingmethamphetamines.6The 2015 NSW Young People in Custody Health Survey found that 92 per cent of theyoung people surveyed had tried illicit drugs, with cannabis the most commonly used (90per cent), followed by crystal methamphetamine at 55 per cent. Illicit drugs were used atleast weekly by 81 per cent of young people surveyed, while 65 per cent reportedcommitting crime to obtain alcohol or drugs and 78 per cent were intoxicated (on alcohol,drugs or both) at the time of their offence.7Again, complex needs are evident among young people in custody, with 87 per centhaving at least one psychological disorder, and 60 percent having a history of child abuseor trauma.8Legal Aid NSW’s civil law and family law clients also face drug and alcohol issues. Forexample, clients presenting with ATS use may be involved in care and protectionproceedings and/or face housing and debt issues. Our civil and family lawyers provideoutreach to drug and alcohol services (for example, WHOS – We Help Ourselves – andWilliam Booth House) at a point in time when people are committed to recovery. Ourlawyers help to address legal issues which can trigger relapse.In our experience, often clients who use ATS may also use other forms of drugs andalcohol and present with other complex needs. They have various legal needs which mightspan civil, family and criminal law. The case study of John, below, illustrates how drugmisuse often co-exists with mental and physical health problems and early experience oftrauma (including witnessing domestic violence and being homeless), and can impactupon a variety of legal needs.Case Study: JohnJohn is a young man aged twenty years old. He had his first contact with Legal Aid NSWwhen he was twelve and is a high user of legal aid services with 96 service contactsover a five-year period.John's childhood was characterised by physical health problems. He suffered fromchronic ear infections, his speech was slow to develop and he had periodic bouts ofasthma. He had early corrective surgery for a congenital abnormality.5AIHW 100.AIHW 101.7 NSW Health, NSW Justice, 2015 Young People in Custody Health Survey. Key Findings for All YoungPeople, 2.8 Devon Indig et al., '2009 NSW Young People in Custody Health Survey: Full Report' Justice Health:Sydney, (2011).64

John’s mother suffered from obsessive-compulsive disorder and other anxietyproblems. John’s father was violent to his mother. At age two, John's parents separatedand he lived with his mother in refuges for a period of time. He has subsequently hadperiods of living with his mother, his father, his grandparents and in various fosterplacements.At age four, John was diagnosed with attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder. Over thesubsequent years clinicians have diagnosed him with conduct disorder, oppositionaldefiant disorder, and various other psychiatric diagnoses. He has had episodes wherehe has self-harmed and has attempted suicide. On intelligence tests, John returnedscores in the range of moderate intellectual disability.The Department of Family and Community Services became involved with John whenhe was seven years old. Over subsequent years John had many short and difficult outof-home-care placements as well as numerous periods where he lived with friends oron the street.John attended four primary schools and his early learning difficulties were initiallyaddressed by teachers' aides. As John transitioned to high school he was frequentlyexcluded and expelled. Placements in special schools were unsuccessful and hestopped attending school in Year 9.John started smoking cannabis and drinking alcohol when he was about thirteen yearsold. By age fifteen he was using amphetamines. John's criminal justice offending profileinvolved offences such as stalk/intimidate, breach of bail, assault, and theft offences.Often his offences involve family members as victims.John had periods of residential drug and alcohol treatment and was recommended forthe Youth Drug and Alcohol Court but did not proceed with an application. The YouthDrug and Alcohol Court ceased operating in 2012.On the basis of our extensive work with clients who have used ATS and who are in contactwith the legal system, we believe we have insights which will assist the SpecialCommission in addressing the issues raised in Issues Paper 2 – Justice. Where there arerelated issues which have been raised in Issues Paper 1, 3 and 4, we have referred tothose Issues Papers in this submission.5

DecriminalisationThe Commonwealth Parliament’s Joint Committee on Law Enforcement in the FinalReport of its Inquiry into crystal methamphetamine (ice)9 (the Commonwealth inquiry)noted:What is clear to the committee is that the current approach in Australia is notworking. Methamphetamine abuse can have devastating effects on individuals,their families and communities, and has broader social and economic impacts.When former law enforcement officers and law enforcement agencies themselvesare saying that Australia cannot arrest its way out of the methamphetamineproblem, that view must be taken seriously.The committee urges Australian governments to implement the recommendationsin this and the committee's first report. Improvements can and must be made inaddressing methamphetamine use in Australia; in the committee's opinion, thisshould be done by shifting the focus on methamphetamine from a law enforcementproblem to a health issue within an environment where treatment and support arereadily available and without stigmatization. Concerted attention must also be paidto improving the services and support available to Aboriginal drug users, drugusers in regional and remote areas, prisoners and drug users with young children.Legal Aid NSW supports the call of the Joint Committee for a new focus on dealing withATS use as a health issue. Decriminalisation is part of a suite of measures to support thisfocus. Legal Aid NSW supports decriminalisation of offences involving use andpossession of ATS. In particular, we support the existing examples of decriminalisation inNSW (listed below) and would welcome consideration of further measures: Penalty notice for the use and possession of a small quantity of prohibited drug inlieu of criminal proceedings;10 Diversion under the Young Offenders Act; Cannabis cautioning scheme; and Exempting a person possessing and using a small quantity of a prohibited drug atthe Medically Supervised Injecting Centre from criminal liability.9Parliament of Australia, Joint Committee on Law Enforcement, Inquiry into crystal methamphetamine(ice) - Final Report, (2018), Chapter 6.10Criminal Procedure Act 1986 (NSW) ss 333-338; Criminal Procedure Regulation 2017 (NSW) Sch4, amended by the Criminal Procedure Amendment (Penalty Notices for Drug Possession) Regulation2019 (NSW).6

Decriminalisation removes the barriers to treatment that criminal justice interventionimposes and is a far more effective course for encouraging treatment. There is evidencethat decriminalisation results in measurable savings in health costs, social costs and coststo the justice system.11 Savings for the justice system can include freeing up police time,allowing them to focus on more serious crimes, savings on court and legal resources, andreductions in prison overcrowding.12An important qualifier concerning decriminalisation is that its success is reliant uponadditional investment in health and social services.13International conventionsIn relation to concerns about whether decriminalisation in NSW would be inconsistent withCommonwealth law and international laws to which Australia is a signatory, we note thatthese issues were considered extensively in the Victorian Parliamentary Law Reform,Road and Community Safety Committee’s Inquiry into drug law reform in 2018 (theVictorian Inquiry). They were also extensively considered in the report of New Zealand’sLaw Commission, Controlling and Regulating Drugs.14The Victorian Inquiry noted that there is an ongoing debate about what the conventionsrequire of member states in the context of personal use and possession of illicitsubstances. According to various scholars, none of the United Nations conventionsactually criminalise the use of illicit substances per se.Furthermore, the Victorian Inquiry noted the International Narcotics Control Board’s(INCB) support for Portugal’s liberal drug policy framework that is based ondecriminalisation. In particular, at the April 2016 United Nations General Assembly SpecialSession (UNGASS) on drugs, the former INCB President, Werner Sipp, identified themodel as one of best practice and that it is ‘fully committed to the principles of the DrugControl Conventions’.15We note that the above mentioned decriminalisation in NSW is a form of de factodecriminalisation (depenalisation) which does not legalise drug use/possession and is fullyconsistent with Commonwealth law and international conventions. If NSW were toconsider other forms of decriminalisation or legalisation, guidance may be gained fromother Australian jurisdictions, New Zealand, or Portugal. We note that the CommonwealthInquiry examined variations of decriminalisation (both de jure and de facto) across all the11Ritter, Decriminalisation or legalisation: injecting evidence in the drug law reform debate, NationalDrug and Alcohol Research Centre (NDARC), 22 April 2016.12 Global Commission on Drug Policy, Advancing Drug Policy Reform: A New Approach toDecriminalisation, (2016), 21.13 Global Commission on Drug Policy, Advancing Drug Policy Reform: A New Approach toDecriminalisation, (2016), 20.14 New Zealand Law Commission, Controlling and Regulating Drugs, Issues Paper 16, Feb 2010,Chapter 6.15 Sipp, W, The Portuguese Approach and the International Drug Control Conventions, Paperpresented at the UNGASS 2016, International Narcotics Control Board, New York, (2016).7

Australian jurisdictions16. Inconsistency with international obligations was not raised as aconcern in that Inquiry’s report.Penalty noticesThe ability to issue on the spot fines for use and possession of drugs has only recentlybeen introduced in NSW in January 2019. Hence, at this stage there is little publiclyavailable data regarding the number of penalty notices issued and the impact of thesepenalty notices. It is probably too early to assess their effectiveness.Nevertheless, Legal Aid NSW suggests that it is likely that the introduction of penaltynotices for use or possession of ATS (in lieu of charges) will generally reduce the harmsassociated with criminal prohibition of use and possession. Criminalisation for the use andpossession of illicit drugs for personal use can result in a range of negative outcomes forindividuals. These include the time and stress involved in participating in the court process,obtaining a criminal penalty and having a criminal record which can impact futureemployment opportunities, and lead to experiences of discrimination.17 Asides from coststo the individual offender, there are also costs to the criminal justice system in dealing withsuch matters.While the use of on the spot fines may wield potential benefits by enabling offenders toavoid being convicted and sentenced by a court, their use should be regarded with somedegree of caution. A penalty is not avoided altogether. The Issues Paper notes that themajority of those convicted of possession of amphetamines under s 20 of the Drug Misuseand Trafficking Act 1985 (NSW) (the DMT Act) between July 2016 and June 2018 weresentenced by court to pay a fine, followed by a section 9 bond and section 10 bond.18However, most offenders convicted of possession of MDMA between July 2016 and June2018 had no prior convictions and the most common penalty was a section 10 bond,followed by a fine only, followed by a section 10(1)(a) dismissal.For many offenders the receipt of an on the spot fine will be preferable to attendance atcourt proceedings and the uncertainty of a court penalty and conviction. For someoffenders, the on the spot fine will be a lesser penalty than what they would have otherwisereceived in court. However, in some cases, particularly those offenders with no priorrecord, the fine may be a harsher response than proceeding to court, where they mayhave had their matters dismissed by a section 10. As such, for these offenders, the on thespot fine may have a net widening effect.1916Parliament of Australia, Joint Committee on Law Enforcement, Inquiry into crystal methamphetamine(ice) - Final Report, (2018), 152.17 Victorian Parliamentary Law Reform, Road and Community Safety Committee, Inquiry into drug lawreform, (2018), Chp 3.18 Under the Crimes (Sentencing Procedure) Act 1999 (NSW).19 NSW Law Reform Commission, Penalty Notice

About Legal Aid NSW The Legal Aid Commission of New South Wales (Legal Aid NSW) is an independent statutory body established under the Legal Aid Commission Act 1979 (NSW). We provide legal services across New South Wales through a state-wide network

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