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Drug policing has failed, time for pill testing: ex top cop


Australia must accept that its drug policies have failed and pill testing must be introduced to save young lives, the nation’s former top cop says.


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Mick Palmer was the commissioner of the Australian Federal Police in the seven years to April 2001 and says it’s time for the nation to accept police-based prohibition has failed.

He says young people are continuing to take drugs at music festivals, despite initiatives such as the Just Say No campaign and the presence of sniffer dogs.

He says the only sensible thing is to make things safer, and pill testing is the obvious solution.

“Whatever message we’re trying to give with our prohibitionist, police-based approach isn’t working. We’re not deterring young people from taking drugs at festivals,” he told ABC radio, ahead of an address on pill testing in Brisbane on Tuesday night.

“We’re having large overdose figures at many festivals and of course we’re suffering deaths, which is tragic.”

Palmer wasn’t always a supporter of pill testing but says evidence from European countries that have done it for almost 20 years is impossible to ignore.

“All the evidence is that this can make a positive difference … we should be at least prepared to trial it,” he said.

“Anything we can do to reduce the risk and improve the safety of people who decide to do that … it seems to me has to be a positive thing to do.”


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