Drug scourge needs health response,

not just postcode justice


President of the Law Society of NSW Joanne van der Plaat

17. 05 . 2022

Drug abuse and dependency has disastrous consequences for users and those close to them. The commencement today of the Drug Supply Prohibition Order Pilot Scheme Act 2020 will do little to solve the problem.

There’s no question that high level drug dealers should be put out of business, however strong powers exist already for the NSW Police and courts to do just that.

The high level of secrecy involved in the application process and low threshold necessary for the police to obtain a Drug Supply Prohibition Order (DSPO) against an offender who’s already served their sentence, have the potential to erode the rule of law.

At the time the legislation was introduced in October 2020, the Law Society of NSW raised significant concerns about the proposed operation of the DSPO Pilot Scheme, and offered suggestions for it to be improved.

Police already have the power to apply for search warrants in a closed court. The DSPO scheme lacks sufficient oversight to ensure it operates fairly. Police are now able to make uncontradicted and potentially unsubstantiated claims to support their applications.

This pilot scheme is limited to four NSW Police Area Commands, including the Bankstown Police Area Command. The Law Society has grave concerns that the DSPO Pilot Scheme will result in the targeting of some of the most vulnerable cohorts in our community, including young offenders who may have been convicted of selling as few as half a dozen pills and the homeless.

The scheme will do nothing to aid rehabilitation, and may well do little to hinder high level drug dealers either. The Law Society will engage with the Oversight Commissioner and take a keen interest in reporting on the use of these new powers.

The best way to approach the drug problem is prevention. Two years, two months and two weeks ago, the NSW Government released the report of the Special Commission of Inquiry into ‘Ice’. It’s now time to implement the recommendations of this Inquiry focusing on prevention and a truly effective health response.

Director, Media and Public Relations
The Law Society of New South Wales

E: damien.smith@lawsociety.com.au