We can no longer ignore the disturbing rates of methamphetamine, and drug-related crime, which are tearing a hole in the social fabric of our communities, Waitaki MP Jacqui Dean says.
“From Central Otago, to Oamaru, drug-related crime is a growing problem with methamphetamine taking a heavy toll on people and their families.
“The number of methamphetamine-related arrests in Oamaru has risen dramatically, with 19 in 2018, and another 12 in the first six months of this year – a significant jump from just one methamphetamine -related arrest in 2017.
“While in Central Otago, more than $200,000 worth of methamphetamine and more than $30,000 in cash and other drugs, were seized in Queenstown in June, following raids in Alexandra and Cromwell and last week two people were jointly charged with possession of methamphetamine for supply in Cromwell.
“I’m worried about our communities. Police admit that there’s a region-wide problem, which is in line with the rest of the country, but its rapid saturation has come as a shock.
"It’s been reported that social service agencies in Oamaru claim the full extent of the problem is worse than the statistics show, while family court lawyers report an alarming increase in domestic cases involving methamphetamine over the past two years.
"There can be no doubt there is a link between this and the huge increase in gang membership in the South. Between October 2017 and 31 August 2019, there’s been a 61.9 percent increase in gang members in the Southern Police District.
“Drugs are a scourge on our society, with every aspect of the community affected by this poison. We must not allow it to gain a foothold in North Otago or Central Otago.
“I believe local police need all the resources they can get to try and contain the criminals who’re attempting to destroy our towns and this makes the Government’s recent back-down, on their promise of an additional 1800 new police officers across the country by next year, even harder to accept.
"I think it’s shameful that the Government has left this region without the extra police staff that it urgently needs, while allowing the evils of methamphetamine to take a hold.
“I commend Central Otago and Oamaru police for the work they’ve done so far to crack down on this very real threat to our communities and for doing their very best to keep our towns safe.
“I will continue do my part in Parliament by making the Police Minister aware of this serious issue and by asking for more support for police and social services who are desperately trying to deal with it.”