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New bill fast tracks illegal drugs destruction

Issued: Wednesday, 9 March 2016

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The NSW Government is introducing changes to the Drug Misuse and Trafficking Act 1985 to give police the power to destroy illegal drugs faster.

Deputy Premier and Minister for Justice and Police Troy Grant said the majority of drugs will be destroyed 28 days after the accused gets a copy of the forensic drug testing results.

Currently hundreds of kilos of toxic drugs such as heroin, cocaine and ice are kept in secure police facilities as evidence until a trial and appeals process is exhausted.

"Speeding up the destruction of drug evidence will significantly improve the health and safety of police who handle these illegal substances," Mr Grant said.

"These chemicals can decompose over time which is why we need to ensure they are disposed of quickly and safely."

Attorney General Gabrielle Upton said the Bill also simplifies the way evidence about the drug exhibits is presented to the court.

"For the first time in NSW, police will provide an evidentiary certificate to prove drugs tested by forensics were those seized during the police operation," Ms Upton said.

"Currently every police officer who has handled the drug exhibit must give a statement and can be called as a witness during the trial to confirm where the drugs came from.

"These changes will allow police to get on with the job of cracking down on manufacturers, suppliers and dealers instead of spending hours sitting in court."

According to the Auditor General's 2013 report, drug exhibits currently transported by NSW Police for analysis take the equivalent of 1,000 police officers away from the frontline, at an estimated cost of $1.2 million per year.

Under the changes, police will weigh all the drugs seized and, for large seizures, provide two samples of the exhibit to the Forensic and Analytical Science Service for testing. Secure couriers, approved by the Commissioner of Police, will deliver the samples and small exhibits to the Forensic and Analytical Science Service in sealed tamper proof bags, freeing up police to return to frontline duties faster.

The Bill comes on top of the NSW Government's new campaign to stamp out ice and the introduction of harsher penalties for its dealers.