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Mark McGowan’s COVID-19 border ban and social restrictions have smashed the West Australian drug trade and driven down crime rates in the state, including in Aboriginal communities. Border restrictions imposed by the WA Premier have blocked the importation of drugs into the state from the east coast, doubling the price of methyl amphetamine and forcing drug users to source other illicit substances. In a submission to a federal parliamentary inquiry into COVID-19 criminal activity, the WA Police Force said closing the state’s borders had disrupted “the movement of illicit drugs across regional WA”.  “Illicit drugs became increasingly difficult to source, increasing prices within the metropolitan and southwest areas. It was reported in May 2020 that methyl amphetamine was extremely difficult to source,” the submission said.

“The price of methyl amphetamine effectively doubled at this time. Addicted users are suffering the effects of reduced supply, with reductions in purity also being reported to maintain drug sales. “The State of Emergency restrictions have undoubtedly impacted on the capacity of drug trafficking syndicates to import illicit drugs into WA.” The shortage of drugs has triggered “ongoing tensions” in the state’s prison system, triggering a spike in attempts to smuggle illicit substances through prisoner mail. WA police said the border ban had forced them to redirect “significant operational resources from core law enforcement activities. The inability to devolve these functions to persons other than police has adversely impacted on organisational capacity and delivery of policing services.”

Under COVID-19 biosecurity zones, where people returned to their primary Aboriginal communities between March and June, Kalgoorlie reported a 71.5 per cent decrease in burglary offences, 59.6 per cent reduction in stealing offences and a 33.5 per cent fall in property damage offences compared to the same period last year. WA police said the four-week COVID-19 temporary liquor restrictions on the sale of takeaway alcohol “had a positive impact on alcohol-related offending” with reported offences and anti-social behaviour decreasing across the Kimberley. With retail shops and licensed venues closing and more people staying at home, WA police said there had been a “steep decrease” in burglaries, stealing, assaults and drug-related offences in Perth.

“In contrast, Metropolitan Region crime statistics have shown a significant increase in family violence assaults and threatening behaviour offences since the beginning of March 2020. “The Women’s Council is expecting a large spike in refuge demand after the COVID-19 crisis is over and when women are feeling safer to leave.” The WA police submission said there had been an increase in reports about the “prevalence of COVID-19 related instances of racism and racist criminal activity”, particularly in Asian-Australian communities.

Source: Compiled by APN from media reports