17 Oct 2016

Govt pledges extra $15m to fight drugs

7:38 pm on 17 October 2016

Nearly $15 million seized from criminals will fund 15 different initiatives to tackle drug abuse, with a focus on methamphetamine, the government says.

Northland Police have made a record seizure of methamphetamine - with an estimated street value of $438 million on the street

Police in Northland made a record seizure of methamphetamine earlier this year. Photo: SUPPLIED/New Zealand Police

Almost $9m of the government-allocated money would be spent on a range of health-related initiatives.

About $3m would go towards a joint police and health initiative to reduce demand for the drug, also known as P, in Northland, and $2m would be used to better identify its use among incoming prisoners and a pilot prison treatment programme.

Prime Minister John Key said the number of people using meth in New Zealand was dropping, but more still needed to be done to help a hard-core group of users struggling to kick the habit.

"The data doesn't support the view that the situation is getting worse, it actually argues it's getting better, but I think the evidence shows that group that are using it are really quite a hardened group now."

Mr Key said the announcement brought the total amount invested in anti-drug programmes under the Criminal Proceeds Act to about $31m.

Funding was also being earmarked for specific operations in China, Hong Kong and the US to stop the flow of drugs from overseas.

Methamphetamine 'not going away'

However, the Labour Party is challenging the Prime Minister's claim the government is winning the war on methamphetamine.

Labour leader Andrew Little said information supplied by the Police Minister showed court cases against individuals found with methamphetamine were on the rise.

Mr Little said the figures showed a 22 percent increase since 2015.

"We've got a lot of P cases coming through the courts. One argument is 'well you know we're doing a better job of catching them and enforcing it'. But the reality is we have a lot more P coming into the country. This isn't going away and we simply have to get on top of it."

Mr Little said one response would be to boost police numbers.

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