Arrests for methamphetamine-related offences shot up sharply last year in the Mid and South Canterbury police area and seem likely to be even higher this year.
In reply to a written parliamentary question from South Canterbury MP Andrew Falloon, Police Minister Stuart Nash released statistics which showed proceedings against offenders for meth offences last year totalled 119 in the region.
This was a big jump from 68 in 2017 and 59 in 2016.
The number for just the first six months of this year was 74 and well on course to far exceed last year’s total.
“You only need to talk to addictions services here in Timaru to know it’s a problem that’s getting bigger and bigger,” Mr Falloon said.
“I don’t blame Government for it. It’s a societal problem that’s happening in other parts of the world, as well. What is important for Government is that resources are put not just into tackling it through police and the courts, but in mental health and addiction services as well.”
Police believed the whole community needed to tackle the issue, Mr Falloon said.
“Police are worried about it; 93% of police officers across the country identify methamphetamine as the country’s most significant threat to law and order.”
There has been a significant increase in the number of meth-related arrests in the Canterbury police district also.
In 2016, a total of 403 arrests were made. This went up to 459 in 2017, and then to 600 last year.
Another big rise is expected this year – 362 arrests were made between January and June.
Mr Falloon said gangs were a “huge” part of the problem.
There has been a 16.2% increase in gang numbers in Canterbury also between October 2017 and August 31, 2019.
“Much of the methamphetamine trade comes from gangs. They’re not some cuddly organisation some people would have us believe.
“Government has a role in .. ensuring our courts have the ability to hold those who peddle misery to account.
“It’s incomprehensible that the Government have cut the Methamphetamine Action Plan which targeted criminal offending and gang activity.”
Mr Falloon said there were children in schools whose mothers had smoked meth during their pregnancies.
“That causes causes major issues in their learning development, way beyond what we see with foetal alcohol syndrome.”