War on drugs needs more troops

The Minister of Police must urgently address the number of officers investigating illegal drugs if she is serious about making a dent in the meth trade, says Labour’s Police spokesperson Stuart Nash. 

“Answers from written questions from the Minister show that the number of sworn police officers whose primary role is investigating illegal drugs has dropped from 178 in 2012/13 to 166 in 2015/16. At the same time the amount of meth seized has gone from 6,096 grams in 2012 to 50,218 grams in 2015. 

“The price of meth has dropped, the quantity available has increased and the cost to our communities and society is mounting yet the numbers of police dedicated to investigating drug crime has fallen. This is not only unacceptable, it’s putting the safety of police and the community at risk. 

“Canterbury district is the worst hit with a decrease of nearly 30 per cent  of officers investigating drugs and yet the amount of meth seized has increased by over 300 per cent. 

“Not surprisingly, the two districts that came bottom of the recently released 2016 Workplace Culture Survey in terms of staff satisfaction, Northland and Eastern, have the least full-time staff who investigate drugs as their primary role. 

“The police in Hawke’s Bay tell me that there is a real ‘P’ epidemic out there and yet with only five staff covering Gisborne, Napier and Hastings, it makes it difficult to fight this on even terms. 

“If the Prime Minister and Minister of Police are serious in their efforts to stamp out this scourge, then they need to start walking the walk as opposed to simply reverting to tough words. We need more police on the front line now,” says Stuart Nash