Ex drug cop: $15m war on meth misses the mark

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Former drug squad detective Dale Kirk said the $15m funding is a good start for tackling drug abuse. Photo/file
Former drug squad detective Dale Kirk said the $15m funding is a good start for tackling drug abuse. Photo/file

The Government's $15 million worth of anti-drug initiatives is welcomed in the Bay of Plenty, where meth use is on the rise, but some question whether is it being spent in the right places.

With money seized from criminals the Government has announced 15 initiatives as part of its Tackling Methamphetamine Action Plan.

"Through combined efforts of law enforcement and health authorities we are making progress but we need to do more," Prime Minister John Key said while announcing the initiatives on Monday.

Mr Key said the efforts were investing a total of $8.7m in health-related initiatives to reduce demand and help users struggling to kick the habit.

Dale Kirk, a former drug squad detective living in Mount Maunganui, said the funding was a "good start".

"I've been talking about putting priority towards demand-based initiatives and it's good to see something is finally starting to happen there though I think it could go a lot further."

Targeted funding for education on the dangers of meth for teenagers was something he thought was missing.

Mr Kirk said it was curious that Northland was receiving $3m for a joint police and health initiative to reduce P demand.

"I would have thought something nationwide would be required," he said.

Stephen King, who ran a drug and alcohol rehabilitation support house service in Waikato, said the most important area in need of funding was reducing demand and he was "disappointed" by where the money was going.

Stephen King is disappointed with the funding allocation, saying more should be done to tackle drug demand. Photo/file
Stephen King is disappointed with the funding allocation, saying more should be done to tackle drug demand. Photo/file

"I don't know who is advising the Government because they haven't gotten it right," he said, saying spending $2m to identify P users going into prison was not an effective use of money.

"It's when they come out of prison that you want the money spent, so they don't go back immediately into the same environment and carry on the same."

He believed the Bay of Plenty needed a support house for users before and after t rehab. It would prepare people for rehab and help with transitioning afterwards and integrating into the community.

Bay of Plenty District Commander Superintendent Andy McGregor said meth was a growing issue in the Bay and was often the driver of other crime.

He said any resources put towards tackling the supply and use of methamphetamine was a sensible step that could make a real difference to crime levels in the community.

"By working with health to provide support to identified drug users and help them break their addictions, we can make a significant dent in demand," he said, and police were in the early stages of developing an initiative with the Ministry of Health.

MP for Tauranga Simon Bridges said he pleaded Tauranga's case in Cabinet.

"P is a scourge on our society ... I made clear it's an issue in the Bay of Plenty and I think the things in this package will make a difference."

He said though Tauranga and the Bay was not specifically targeted in the initiatives he would not rule out Tauranga receiving some of the funding.

Indeed, funding allocated to Customs for increased intelligence work and improving examination and exhibiting facilities would be carried out at a national level, which included Tauranga Port.

A total of 15 initiatives will be funded. They are:

• $2.14m to better identify P use among incoming prisoners and to pilot a prison treatment programme.

• $900,000 to extend the intensive treatment programme at the Moana House Dunedin facility as well as its community care work.


• $800,000 for a treatment service in Wellington with the Salvation Army.


• $843,000 to pilot a programme aimed at preventing and addressing substance-related harm in schools.


• $634,000 to build on efforts to prevent, identify and respond to fetal alcohol spectrum disorder.


• $350,000 to extend the Alcohol and Other Drug Treatment Court for a further year until its evaluation is complete.


• $3m for a joint Police and Health initiative to reduce P demand in Northland.

• $1.07m for the recovery of legal costs for actions taken under the Criminal Proceeds (Recovery) Act 2009.


• $1.65m to boost the Police Financial Crime Group and Asset Recovery Unit.


• $720,400 to establish a New Zealand Customs presence at the International Targeting Centre in Washington DC to target methamphetamine flows into New Zealand from the Americas.


• $760,000 for Customs to pilot an operational post in Hong Kong for two years to support multilateral operational activity and facilitate information exchange with Hong Kong, China and Taiwan Customs.


• $505,000 to identify and stop precursors and illicit drugs at source in Southern China.


• $732,000 to fund new Customs intelligence to disrupt and dismantle the supply of methamphetamine into New Zealand by overseas gangs.


• $568,000 to upgrade existing and establish new Customs examination and exhibiting facilities in Auckland.


• $35,000 to develop a plan for how to set up an early warning system for new and emerging illicit substances (such as psychoactive substances).

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