If elected in March 2018, a Marshall Liberal Government will limit participation in a police-ordered drug diversion program to a maximum of two times before an individual is charged with an offence.
Under the Controlled Substances Act 1984, an individual found with a controlled substance must be provided with the opportunity to participate in an accredited drug diversion program.
SAPOL officers have no discretion as to whether an individual has the opportunity to participate in the program.
If an offender meets the requirements set out in the program and chooses to participate, his/her offence will not proceed to court.
Further, there is currently no limit to the number of times an offender can participate in the drug diversion program and some offenders have continuously opted to participate in the drug diversion program as a way to avoid more serious punishment.
There has been a rapid decline in drug diversion completion rates from 72.7 per cent in 2013-14 to 54.5 per cent in 2015-16, while a 10 year review of the South Australian Drug Diversion Initiative highlights that approximately one quarter of the 13,627 individuals were diverted more than once.
15 per cent were diverted twice, 5 per cent were diverted three times and 4 per cent were diverted four or more times.
This means over 1,200 people had been diverted three times or more, with one person being diverted 32 times.
The government has wasted thousands of taxpayer dollars and police resources by allowing people to abuse this program, with police wasting hours processing people charged with simple drug possession to a diversion program, then arranging appointments with SA Health, only to see them return again and again.
It is unacceptable for people to access drug diversion programs to enable them to avoid facing court for repeated drug offences.
The State Liberals' Plan
If elected in March 2018, a Marshall Liberal Government will limit participation in a police ordered drug diversion program to a maximum of two times before an individual is charged with an offence.
As outlined in a 10 year review of the current system, compliance with diversions is high but it tends to decrease as the number of diversions per individual increases.
This indicates that the current system is not working and that capping the number of diversions an individual receives is necessary to ensure no one is abusing the drug diversion program.
Limiting the number of occasions an offender can participate in the drug diversion program will:
- send a message to offenders to take the drug diversion program seriously as future offences may result in punishment
- reduce the amount of work that police must do to repeatedly arrange for participation in the programs.
- free up resources within the program for offenders who are more likely to genuinely attempt to utilise the rehabilitation services.
Offenders who use the program responsibly and get themselves back on track will not be affected.