Hon Rob Johnson JP MLA

Hon Rob Johnson JP MLA

Former Minister for Police; Road Safety

    Mandatory jail for drug offences against children

    14/08/2011 12:00 AM
     

    Adults who manufacture, cultivate or prepare illicit drugs that cause harm to a child will face a mandatory minimum jail term of 12 months, under tough new drug laws proposed by the Liberal-National Government.

     

    There will also be a mandatory minimum jail term of six months for any adult who is convicted of a second or subsequent offence for selling or supplying drugs to a child or exposing a child to harm through the manufacture, cultivation or preparation of drugs.

     

    Police Minister Rob Johnson said the wide-ranging drug reforms were part of the Misuse of Drugs Amendment Bill 2011 he would introduce into State Parliament this week.

     

    Mr Johnson said the laws were aimed at protecting children from the insidious drug trade, as well as the dangers posed by clandestine drug laboratories.

     

    “We have reached a point in this State where the number of clandestine drug laboratories uncovered by WA Police has spiralled out of control,” he said.

     

    “This year alone, about 120 clan labs have been detected, with numerous cases of explosions occurring at private residences due to the volatile mix of chemicals used in the manufacturing process.

     

    “What is frightening is that children have been present at a quarter of these clan labs, posing an enormous threat to their health and their lives, not to mention the lives of children in neighbouring residences and schools.

     

    “Enough is enough - we want to send a clear message to the community that illicit drug use, supply and manufacture will not be tolerated and any adult that exposes or causes harm to a child through drugs will receive a jail sentence.”

     

    The Minister said the legislation removed sentencing options such as fines, community based orders or intensive supervision orders for a range of drug offences involving children, which would ensure a person received a jail sentence commensurate with the severity of the offence.

     

    The legislation proposes four key reforms:

     

    1.     Causing harm to a child - first and subsequent offence: where a person, who was an adult at the time the offence was committed, is convicted of manufacturing or preparing a prohibited drug, cultivating a prohibited plant or possessing certain chemicals, and the offence was committed in circumstances which caused bodily harm to a child under the age of 16 years, the court must impose a minimum term of imprisonment of 12 months and must not suspend the term of imprisonment.

     

    2.     Exposing a child to harm - first offence: if a person, who was an adult at the time the offence was committed, is convicted of manufacturing or preparing a prohibited drug, cultivating a prohibited plant or possessing certain chemicals, and the offence was committed in circumstances which endangered the life, health or safety of a child under the age of 16, the court must use only one of the following sentencing options:

           suspended imprisonment

           conditional suspended imprisonment

           a term of imprisonment.

     

    For a second and subsequent offence, the courts must impose a minimum mandatory jail term of six months imprisonment.

     

    3.     Selling drugs to children - first offence: when the court is sentencing a person, who was an adult at the time the offence was committed, for selling or supplying, or offering to sell or supply, a prohibited drug or prohibited plant to a child under the age of 18 years, the court must use only one of the following sentencing options:

           suspended imprisonment

           conditional suspended imprisonment

           a term of imprisonment.

     

    For a second a subsequent offence, the courts must impose a minimum mandatory jail term of six months imprisonment.

     

    4.     Drug paraphernalia ban: the display and sale of any drug paraphernalia will be prohibited, with the following penalties:

           $10,000 fine for displaying drug paraphernalia for sale in a retail outlet

           $10,000 fine for selling drug paraphernalia to an adult

           $24,000 fine or imprisonment for two years or both for selling drug paraphernalia to a child

           $36,000 fine, imprisonment for three years or both for possessing drug paraphernalia containing traces of a prohibited drug or prohibited plant.

     

    Mr Johnson said the legislation fulfilled a Liberal Party election commitment to toughen penalties for drug offences involving children.

     

    He said the State Government would continue to target the illicit drug trade in Western Australia with further reforms being considered.

     

    Minister's office - 9222 9211