Police, lawyers and crime experts have publicly expressed their concern about the link between ice use and violent crime as the discussion ramps up in the ACT around proposed legislation to decriminalise all prohibited drugs.
Data released in the ACT police submission to the inquiry into the proposed private member's bill revealed a strong correlation between the use of methylamphetamine and the commission of various offences including assault, burglary, theft, property offences, and firearms offences.
Meth users were also more likely to breach family violence orders, resist arrest and breach bail conditions than non-users.
Over five years of data was extracted from ACT police records which reveal a consistent theme in which ice was seized during an arrest for the commission of other crimes.
And what the data doesn't reveal are those arrests where the offenders are observed to be clearly and heavily drug-affected, but no drugs are found on the person at the time.
"Anecdotally, ACT Policing members report that they observe crime in peaks and troughs in line with substance users' highs and lows," the submission reported.
"For instance, individuals are observed by police to commit crime (consistent with the themes highlighted by the data) in line with their highs from methylamphetamine."
Six years ago under former prime minister Tony Abbott, the final report of the National Ice Taskforce revealed there were more then 200,000 ice users across Australia, qualifying that estimate with "these figures are conservative and already dated".
It's not just an urban issue, either. In 2019, the national drug household survey found that ice use in rural and regional communities was far higher than in cities and regular and dependent use - in other words, addiction, as opposed to irregular use - was on the rise.
In its 2016 research study, the Australian Institute of Criminology noted that "the likelihood of engaging in crime, especially property crime, increases with the increased frequency of substance abuse or addiction".
It tellingly found that in surveying regular users, they were more likely to commit a violent crime when "high" on ice than for any other reason.
Police suggest that repeated offences committed by users are also influenced by drug purity.
"For instance, offenders conversationally mention to police that they may be committing more crime to fund their drug habit due to a lack of supply of that drug, or lower drug purity, meaning the high is not lasting as long," police said.
The ACT Law Society's view of the proposed drug bill falls in line, unusually, with that of the police, stating that possession of a drug of dependence "is typically charged alongside other criminal offences such as burglary, assault and drug-driving".
"We do not support the decriminalisation of any quantity of ice, given the threat such poses to public safety," the peak law body in the ACT said.
Under the proposed bill, an amendment would see the renaming of the Simple Cannabis Offence Notice (SCON) Scheme to the Simple Drug Offence Notice (SDON).
Some public health experts have advocated for a shift in the focus of drug policy from criminal law enforcement to the broader health and social issues associated with the harmful use of drugs.