Monday, 4 October 2004 - 1:00pm |
National News

Study confirms link between methamphetamine and violence

3 min read

A report commissioned by Police into Amphetamine Type Stimulants (ATS)

drug use in New Zealand highlights the impact of drugs such as methamphetamine and ecstasy in incidents involving violence.

Superintendent Ted Cox, of Auckland Metropolitan Crime & Operations Support, said the report released today highlights concerns not just for Police but for all communities in New Zealand.

"Until now we have relied on anecdotal evidence of the effects of ATS particularly where violent crimes are committed. This research provides some solid evidence as to the magnitude of the problem."

Research conducted by Massey University’s Centre for Social and Health Outcomes Research and Evaluation surveyed frequent methamphetamine users, drug enforcement officers, drug treatment workers and analysed drug treatment statistics and a pilot study of the drug use of arrestees conducted in a police watch-houses.

Key findings were:

• Frequent methamphetamine users were more likely to be involved in criminal and violent activity.

• ATS are now serious drugs of abuse in New Zealand,

• The level of amphetamine use among 15-19 year olds may be higher in NZ than in Australia,

• The illicit trade in ATS drugs is of the equivalent dollar value as the illicit trade in cannabis, but the drug is in addition to all other existing drugs rather than replacing them;

• Availability of these drugs is "very easy" or "easy".

Mr Cox said police have been focusing on organised crime groups and the manufacturing of methamphetamine to cut the supply. The impact of this strategy has been felt as evidenced by the responses from those surveyed.

Additional funding was provided by government to set up specialist Police clan lab teams to combat the illicit trade, and two teams have already been established and the third is in the process of being set up. To the end of August this year 122 lab busts have been made compared to 202 for the whole of last year.

The recent very successful seizure of a methamphetamine manufacturing laboratory in Fiji that was capable of producing 61 kg per day emphasises the amount of money being invested in this illicit trade. The "returns on investment" are substantial with a potential street value of $1m per kilogram.

"The report’s reference to the age group 15 –19 year olds and mainly male users aged 18-29 years, matches what front line officers are witnessing on the streets and highlights the real concern the damage these drugs are having on our young people."

Violence and criminal behaviour are features of the effects that meths and ecstasy have on users thereby greatly increasing the risk of harm to those closest to the user and Police staff.

"In the past week there have been at least three incidents of explosions and fires in properties where meths manufacturing was taking place, and this serves as a timely reminder that this is a dangerous and highly volatile process. Some of the people involved have received severe injuries.

"It could be anyone’s family that’s at risk from toxic fumes or an explosion should the meths "cook up" go wrong," said Mr Cox, "and the long-term effects are of concern".

Police officers receive training in the safe handling of meth labs and assessing situations and incidents where drugs may have been used, and Mr Cox warned that people who become involved in any incident where methamphetamine or ecstasy may be involved should contact Police.

He said that key community groups have been assisting the Police response, including chemists, pharmaceutical outlets and chemical companies. Mr Cox said that Police need the support and assistance of the community to provide information about suspicious activity in the neighbourhood, and this could include signs such as furtive behaviour accompanied by continuous running water required in the manufacturing process, as well as the odour from chemicals involved".

A pilot programme to provide counselling for those who have been arrested for offences while under the influence of drugs is to begin shortly in Christchurch.

The full report - "The Socio-Economic Impact of Amphetamine Type Stimulants in New Zealand" - is available at: