Ill-gotten gains fight crime

By Derek Cheng

The Government is using money seized from drug bosses' assets to pay for 10 extra police investigators to fight organised crime and drug syndicates.

Prime Minister John Key yesterday announced the winners in the latest funding round from the Criminal Proceeds (Recovery) Act, under which criminal assets are seized and forfeited to the Crown.

From a pot of over $6 million for this round, $1.9 million will fund the extra investigators, and $1.8 million will double support for mothers of young children and pregnant women with alcohol and drug problems.

Other funding includes $490,000 to police to crack down on cannabis growers, $679,000 for software for officers to extract and recover data from devices seized under warrant, and $300,000 to help offenders with alcohol or drug problems to reintegrate into the community.

"When I launched the Methamphetamine Action Plan in 2009, we made a commitment that money taken from those who profit from drugs would be used to target the drug trade, and help those affected get treatment," Mr Key said.

However, the price, purity and availability of methamphetamine remain high, according to the latest Tackling Methamphetamine: Indicators and Progress Report, released yesterday.

The average price of a gram increased from $678 in 2012 to $684 last year, indicating a small squeeze on supply. Purity since last year has risen, after a slight decline from 2006 to 2012.

The reported noted a slight decline in availability in recent years. Last month, 39 per cent of frequent users reported availability as "very easy", down from 44 per cent the previous year.

Mr Key was confident the Government's combined measures would continue to put pressure on the P trade.

"We're also looking to fund research to better understand the social costs of illicit drug and alcohol use, and the prevalence of both mental health disorders and substance abuse in prisoners."

Dirty money

• Funds from gang assets forfeited to the Crown are bid on by government departments.
• Since December 2009, police have received forfeiture orders for assets worth $37.6 million.
• Successful bids from this round include $1.9m for 10 extra police investigators to fight gangs and drug rings.

- APNZ

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