Liquor trafficking causes misery: Commissioner
File picture: The West Australian

WA Police Commissioner Karl O’Callaghan has denounced as traffickers people who take alcohol into remote indigenous communities with liquor restrictions.

Speaking yesterday at a parliamentary inquiry into the harmful use of alcohol in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities, Mr O’Callaghan said alcohol traffickers needed to be stamped out.

“These people are trafficking a restricted substance, and that is how it should be treated,” he said.

“The whole thing of calling it ‘sly-grogging’ is a bit folksy and makes it sound mischievous rather than criminal.

“People don’t realise the abject misery of trafficking alcohol into these communities.”

Mr O’Callaghan called for legislative powers to charge people driving to areas such as Fitzroy Crossing with large volumes of alcohol.

“We (police) can’t do anything about this unless we catch them in the community, but if you take large amounts of alcohol into a community that has restrictions you should be charged,” he said.

“We have submitted to government as part of the Liquor Control Act review last year to create an offence of attempting to bring in and sell alcohol to these communities.”

WA Police are still awaiting the State Government’s response on the issue.

Mr O'Callaghan also said Woolworths, Coles and the big independents' of responsible service of alcohol was a "joke".

He told hearings in Perth yesterday that suppliers had "no material interest" in fixing the problem.

Foetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder – a condition causing impairment of mental and physical functions when a person’s mother drinks alcohol during pregnancy - was widely discussed at the forum.

WA Childrens Court Magistrate Catherine Crawford said FASD should be recognised as a disability to have it included in the criminal code.

“It concerns me there is a proportion of young people appearing in court who have common attributes of FASD, but there is no diagnostic capacity available to assess them,” she said.

“While there are no diagnostic facilities which can be utilised for courts, there is a high risk of injustice for people with FASD.”

Ms Crawford pointed to cases in which young offenders were repeatedly incarcerated instead of being assessed by clinicians.

The Federal Government is planning to make FASD a registered disability.

The West Australian

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