Police are highly focussed on searching for and destroying the production and distribution of methamphetamine, the Assistant Commissioner for Crime Reduction and Public Safety, Peter Marshall, said today.
Over the last three years there has been a large investment in drug control and a 28.8% increase in non-cannabis drug offences reported in the last set of crime statistics was clear evidence of greater police activity.
"We know that alcohol and drug use and abuse are key drivers of crime. This underpins the actions of every police officer in their daily work and is a constant factor in police work.
The Assistant Commissioner catalogued a list of initiatives over recent years which demonstrated Police commitment to stepping up the fight against illicit drug manufacture and distribution. This included:
â€¢ Appointment of a national coordinator of actions against clan labs and liaison with the ESR to ensure timely processing of evidence.
â€¢ Appointment of a recently retired Detective Inspector who reports to the O/C Forensics at the Office of the Commissioner. His role is to work with the ESR and Police Districts in terms of exhibit handling priorities in conjunction with Crown Prosecutors.
â€¢ The creation of three specialist teams to cover the country in dismantling methamphetamine labs (two in place and the third being formed). Last financial year 190 labs were put out of action and since July a further 54 labs have been busted.
â€¢ The appointment of pre-cursor analysts to enhance intelligence capability
â€¢ The development of district protocols with pharmacists to monitor sales of ephedrine and pseudoephedrine
â€¢ Implementation of an extensive contracted research programme to gain better understanding about patterns of drug supply and use
â€¢ The piloting of the NZADAM (Arrestee Drug and Alcohol Monitoring) research project to interview individuals in police custody about drug and alcohol use. This is in the process of going nation-wide
â€¢ Joint actions with Customs to interdict the importation of Class A and B drugs resulting in the recovery of increasing amounts of attempted drug imports
â€¢ Closer cooperation with agencies in other countries to interrupt the source of imported drugs. The Fijian operation earlier this year knocked out a laboratory capable of producing more methamphetamine in one lab than all the domestic labs detected last year
Mr Marshall said a holistic and balanced approach was being taken to reducing crime in New Zealand.
We aim to reduce violence, reduce burglaries, reduce vehicle crime, reduce organised criminal activity, increase national security and enhance road safety.
"We're not statistics driven but there is more of a science about crime fighting these days. We're making great use of intelligence gathering, analysing and then deploying our staff to best effect.
"District Commanders through their Crime Managers have a feel for crime issues in their geographical areas and methamphetamine definitely varies in intensity throughout the country. This has been reinforced just recently by the publication in September of a research report on the Socio-Economic Impact of Amphetamine Type Stimulants in New Zealand. (see http://www.police.govt.nz/about-us/publication/socio-economic-impact-amphetamine-type-stimulants-new-zealand)
"I'd caution the public to be wary of unsourced commentary supposedly downplaying methamphetamine. The fact is that we are a command and control type organisation and we document strategies and taskings very thoroughly. Quite frankly it's a nonsense to allude to unwritten orders.
"Meth labs are highly dangerous to dismantle and we certainly do require frontline officers to engage the help of specialists before tackling them. But such health and safety requirements are for sound reasons and have absolutely nothing to do with any lack of interest in tackling the labs.
"New Zealand Police are producing very positive results from our current crime and crash reduction strategies which by their very nature range widely across all the major crime types, including methamphetamine manufacture.
"One only has to read daily newspapers to see the result of investigations undertaken by Police up and down the country which have resulted in drug importers, manufacturers and dealers being the subject of District and High Court prosecutions. One example is the highly successful Christchurch operation recently code named Operation Crusade which resulted in 13 patched and two gang associates being found guilty of dealing in "P" and cannabis and hoarding guns and ammunition.
"One cannot help but conclude the Police, as always, are very focussed and result driven in this area," the Assistant Commissioner said.
Further inquiries: A/Hrs (026) 10 10 82