Extra $8m to combat SA's ice 'scourge'

Marnie Banger
Extra $8m to combat SA's ice 'scourge'

South Australian police will get an extra $1 million to fund covert operations as part of a statewide program to reduce the impact of crystal methamphetamine, or ice.

The program will also include an extra $3.6 million for counselling and increased family and community support services.

Premier Jay Weatherill says the strategy would tackle an "awful scourge" that is destroying families.

"We're very confident we've got the balance right... between those measures that stop people using ice, measures that get them to change their behaviour when they've begun, but also treatment and support for people that are well established in their dependency," Mr Weatherill told reporters in Adelaide on Thursday.

The strategy has been developed after figures revealed ice use in SA had tripled over the past four years.

It also includes $500,000 for extra police drug dogs, $200,000 for a Crimestoppers "dob in a dealer" campaign, an additional $560,000 for family support measures and almost $300,000 to boost drug testing in country regions.

Family Drug Support Australia, which is among the support groups, has welcomed the plan.

"This will make a substantial difference for families," chief executive Kath Ashton said.

John McLean, whose son has been addicted to ice, was glad the plan treated ice addiction as a mental health issue and not a crime.

"It's not a criminal person who's taking drugs. My son's not a criminal, he made a mistake," Mr McLean said.

Legislation has also been introduced to increase penalties for people driving while high on ice, and SA is working on national regulations to restrict the sale of chemicals used in the manufacture of the drug.