Proposed State Government legislation will enable police to destroy illegal drugs prior to trial, according to Police Minister Bob Wiese.
Introducing the Misuse of Drugs Amendment Bill in Parliament, Mr Wiese said the Western Australian Police Service faced critical problems and substantial costs in storing large quantities of illegal drugs for periods up to 18 months awaiting trial.
"There have been instances where police have been forced to store drugs for several years due to an accused person absconding while on bail," Mr Wiese said.
"On other occasions, isolated police stations are forced to store the material on site until it can be moved, which is very unsatisfactory in relation to security and the health of the officers."
Mr Wiese said that up until two years ago it was standard police practice to destroy illegal drugs after samples were taken, but the procedure ceased when it was found to contravene the Act.
"This legislation will empower the Police Commissioner to authorise the destruction of prohibited drugs, plants or dangerous substances on site, once samples have been taken," he said.
"Samples will ensure the accused has the opportunity for the material to be independently analysed."
Mr Wiese said the destruction of illegal drugs on location was a far more practical solution to the difficulties faced when transporting and storing large quantities of drugs found in remote areas.
"Safeguards are in place to ensure the destruction of the drugs can only proceed in the presence of a justice of the peace, clerk of Petty Sessions and a high-ranking police officer," he said.
The Minister said concerns had been raised over the health and safety conditions of people involved in the security of drugs at storage centres.
"Some of the chemical ingredients used in the manufacture of amphetamine are highly toxic and volatile in their natural form and when mixed with other chemicals," he said.
Mr Wiese said the new legislation would help `free up' police officers and resources by relieving them of the obligation to guard, transport, secure and store large hauls of prohibited drugs.
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