Why the diversion program?
Sec 379 of the Police Powers and Responsibilities Act 2000 provides for the establishment of the Police Drug Diversion Program. Sec 379 refers to situations where the arrest for a minor drug offense may be discontinued and diverted.
The aim of the Diversion Program is not to decriminalise or legalise the possession or use of illicit drugs. The Police Drug Diversion Program(PDDP) provides offenders of ‘minor drug offences’ with the opportunity to attend a Drug Diversion Assessment Program (DDAP) instead of going through the usual criminal court process.
Why the diversion program?
The objectives of the PDDP are to educate more illegal drug users and to offer treatment early. It offers an incentive for people arrested of a minor drug offense to avoid getting a criminal record by addressing their drug issue. It further aims to reduce the number of people appearing in court for possession of small amounts of cannabis, or an item used for smoking cannabis.
What constitutes a minor drug offense?
It is a minor drug offense if it falls under the Drugs Misuse Act 1986, involving possession of 50 grams, or less, of cannabis, and/or an implement used (or that has been used)for smoking cannabis.
Take note: It is not a minor offense if the possesion is linked to an offense involving the production or supply or trafficking of cannabis.
Who may benefit from the PDAP?
Sec 379(1) sets out certain eligibility criteria for both adults and children to be offered the Diversion program. Police must offer it to all eligible persons.
The PDAP is not available to persons who committed another serious offense in circumstances related to the minor drug offence.
You musn’t have a previous conviction for a violent offence against another person.
The Police have some discretion whether to offer a child, who has not been previously cautioned under the Youth Justice Act 1992, the attendance of a diversion. The officer will look at the circumstances and consider the best interest of the child.
Take note: The offer may only be made if the person admits to committing the offense in an electronically recorded interview.
The DDAP will only be offered once to a person. If you decline the offer, or do not attend, you will not be offered this option again, should you be arrested again for another minor drug offence.
What happens at the DDAP?
Assessment – education – rehabilitation
The Health Service provider will assess your relationship with drugs. You will be asked about your use of cannabis and other illicit drugs. You will discuss factors leading to you using drugs - how much and how often you use.
This will be followed by an education session to inform you of the health and social consequences of drug use.The legal consequences will also be discussed. This session may include video’s and reading material and the DDAP provider will assist and support you with a personal plan for you to stop using illicit drugs.
After assessment, and if appropriate, you may be offered access to a rehabilitation program for drug dependence.
Take note: The DDAP happens in a single session and lasts about two hours. You may take a friend or family member with you for extra support during and after the session. All information discussed during the session is strictly confidential. The police will only know whether you attended the session or not.
Why should you accept a DDAP offer?
If you complete the session you will receive:
- Education about the consequences of drug use
- Assistance to stop using drugs
You will not:
- Be charged with a criminal offence
- Have to appear in court for this minor drug offence
- Have a criminal record for this offense
Non-attendance by choice
When you agree to go, you will be required to sign an Agreement to Attend and Requirement to Comply form. All the details regarding your session will be on the form. You are responsible for making the practical arrangements for attending. Failure to attend is an offense of Contravening the Direction of a Police Officer (under the Police Powers and Responsibilities Act 2000) and you may have to attend court for that offense.
What if I can’t attend?
In certain circumstances, you may be able to contact the police officer you originally dealt with, or the police station where you agreed to the DDAP, and make alternative arrangements. This will only be considered in exceptional circumstances, for example, death of an immediate family member or if you are hospitalised.
The choice is yours – DDAP or a criminal record?
Disclaimer : This article is just a summary of the subject matter being discussed and should not be regarded as a comprehensive legal advice for you to defend yourself alone. If you are charged with criminal offences, it is recommended that you seek legal assistance from criminal lawyers.