Queensland Mental Health Commissioner Ivan Frkovic has welcomed legislative amendments that allow police to divert more people found with small quantities of drugs for personal use to a health response, instead of the courts.
“Drug diversion is a health-based response that supports efforts to address the underlying causes of substance use,” Mr Frkovic said.
“It provides an opportunity for people to seek education, help, support and treatment through the health system.”
Mr Frkovic said that research shows that offering diversion to health responses for people who have not committed other offences interrupts a trajectory of criminal offending that can occur after contact with the criminal justice system.
“Police diversion enables a proportionate response to people that have an addiction – that is, a health problem.”
“It gives an opportunity for people to get help and treatment they need early, and without fear of repercussion.”
“The evidence clearly indicates that time in prison has a profound effect on individuals, their families and support network.”
“Instead of setting people on a criminal justice pathway, early intervention through diversion is a pragmatic approach that will improve long-term outcomes for people who use drugs,” Mr Frkovic said.
Mr Frkovic said drug diversion for cannabis has been happening in Queensland for the past 10 years.
“Expanding the Police Drug Diversion Program to include small quantities of other substances not only improves individual lives, but also reduces the cost and burden on the justice system,” Mr Frkovic said.
“This frees up police resources to target drug trafficking and supply, and keep the community safe.”
“The amendments clearly portray the government’s commitment to implementing the Queensland Parliamentary Mental Health Select Committee recommendation, and is a central feature of Achieving balance: The Queensland Alcohol and Other Drugs Plan 2022–2027,” Mr Frkovic said.