Former magistrate backs fight on drugs

A FORMER Tamworth magistrate has backed calls for a drug fighting “war chest” in the city, saying it would force down crime rates and bolster public confidence.

As pressure continues to mount on the state government to fund a drug sniffer dog and drug squad for the region, former magistrate Mal MacPherson urged the community to maintain the political rage.

“Politicians respond to pressure and there is certainly a drug problem in this area,” Mr MacPherson said.

“We have a number of motorcycle gangs involved in the distribution of drugs.

“A drug dog and a drug squad would be tremendous and I’d also like to see a drug court.”

Mr MacPherson, who retired from the bench in 2012 and is a current member of Tamworth’s Crime Prevention Committee, said Tamworth had the right infrastructure – and a sufficient drug problem – to justify a specialist court.

“The appearances at the local court seem to justify it,” he said.

His comments come as Crime Prevention Committee chairman Russell Webb embarks on a fresh political tack to secure the drug resources.

Cr Webb is set to approach local Nationals MPs Kevin Anderson, Adam Marshall and Kevin Humphries and urge them to make a united approach to police minister Mike Gallacher over the issue.

“We want them to lobby support in the party room with a view to taking the issue to cabinet,” Cr Webb said.

“We haven’t got anywhere so far and we want them to give this a big push.

“There’s so much drug-related crime in our region and these are resources that are desperately needed.

“If we can get on top of drug issues, we can get on top of crime.”

He proposed the drug dog and drug squad be shared among the New England, Barwon and Oxley local area commands, estimating the cost would be about a $1 million a year.

“It may seem a lot but we could save many times that amount by reducing drug-related crime,” Cr Webb said.

The proposed drug squad would have six full-time drug detectives, he said.

Tamworth MP Kevin Anderson raised the issue with premier Barry O’Farrell during his visit to the city last month.

“I drove home the seriousness of the drug problem here and he urged us to stay in the fight,” Mr Anderson said.

“We need to continue to build a case though.”

Mr Anderson will soon meet with western region police commander Geoff McKechnie to discuss the issue.

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