Controlling the use of drug diversion programs


The State Liberals will today introduce amendments to the Controlled Substance Act that will limit the number of times an offender can participate in a drug diversion program after being apprehended with illicit substances.

These amendments will ensure that an offender can only enter a drug diversion program twice, and that if apprehended a third time will be required to face court for their actions.

“Drug diversion schemes for simple possession of illicit substances are a sensible policy response for first time offenders but are currently being abused by a significant number of serial offenders,” said Dan van Holst Pellekaan.

“A significant number of offenders are using the existence of drug diversion programs to avoid punishment despite being apprehended for drug possession time and again.

“It is unacceptable for people to game drug diversion programs to enable them to avoid punishment for repeated drug offences.”

In the 2011-12 year:

 339 offenders have been diverted to the program on three occasions;

 137 persons have been diverted to the program on four or more occasions; and

 One individual had been diverted on 14 occasions.

Shadow Minister for Police John Gardner welcomed the introduction of the Private Members Bill as a sensible step in ensuring valuable police resources are not being misused.

“For too long the South Australian Government has been seen as a soft touch on drug penalties,” said Mr Gardner.

“This important change to the law will ensure a greater percentage of individuals entering drug diversion programs are genuinely committed to rehabilitation. I call on the Weatherill Government and cross benches to give their support to this commonsense Bill.”