More than 200 people have been referred by Northland Police for methamphetamine treatment as part of a pilot programme.

The latest statistics on the Te Ara Oranga programme, which started in October last year, have been released.

The programme is a joint venture between the police and Northland District Health Board and is focused on reducing meth harm in Northland.

As of the end of September this year, 681 cases are being managed by methamphetamine focus clinicians.


Northland police inspector Dean Robinson said the programme had created a pathway from police to treatment services for people with substance abuse problems.

Police referred 208 people to the DHB for treatment between October 2017 and the end of September this year.

"Everyone of those has a story behind it. They're real people, they've got real families," Robinson said.

About half of those referred by the Police were people not already known to the DHB.

Robinson credited the passionate people involved at every level of the programme for its success so far.

"They take it personally, they do their very best, to make sure no one falls through the cracks."

There are eight police officers in the meth harm reduction team, which is led by Detective Sergeant Renee O'Connell.

O'Connell said people in the programme have provided feedback. One person said they didn't expect the first offer of help to come from police.

Another woman thanked police for intervening. "She realised that needed to happen to stop that path she was on."

The team have been educating other police staff so they can do referrals themselves or pass information to the team to follow up.

Police have made 68 meth-related arrests, carried out 62 search warrants, filed 23 reports of concern for 53 children and seized 25 firearms between October 2017 and September this year.

Northland District Health Board professional leader alcohol and other drugs Jenny Freedman said the programme has been doing things differently, which is why it's effective.

The programme has a 24-48 hour response time for a referral.

"Because they can be hard to engage in treatment, we wanted to strike while the iron is hot."

The programme has also established whānau groups as well as pou whānau connectors who work with users and their families in the community.

"They will awhi them into the service and walk closely alongside them in their journey."

A screening programme was established at the emergency department at Whangārei Hospital in January this year.

So far 2601 people had been screened, with 58 of those self-reporting methamphetamine use and 27 of those consenting to a referral.

Freedman said there are a range of services available including Salvation Army, Ngati Hine and Odyssey programmes as well as helplines, peer support, one on one counselling and residential treatment.

Te Ara Oranga works with the meth users to create recovery programmes for themselves.

The employment support part of the programme has had 67 referrals and helped place 23 people into jobs.

"What's been found is employment is a huge incentive and a huge motivator for recovery."

She said often people engage with the job, which means they have to be clean.

A year of funding from the Criminal Proceeds Act expired in March this year and the Ministry of Health are providing interim funding until the end of this year.